By Lolo Ayaba
A group, the Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN) has called on the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu to take appropriate steps to curb the acts of sexual violence being perpetrated by their men.
Addressing journalists in Lagos at this year’s International Day Against Women, and the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism, which has as its theme, “Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands Against Rape”, National Coordinator Emmanuel Ikule said law enforcement officers are not above the law, they are supposed to protect, not abuse women and girls. Thus, if they commit acts of sexual abuse, they should be dismissed from the force and made to face the civil court on criminal charges.
Ikule also bemoaned the fact that those acts of sexual violence are either ignored or allowed to continue with impunity. “It happens every day. It has come to the level whereby people that are supposed to be defending us are the ones defiling us. And it is high time we made that change and ensure that that change is affected. And it has to start with us,” he averred, adding that not only are acts of sexual violence perpetrated by law enforcements agents, they are under reported in the media.
Nsini Udonta Progamme Officer, Project Alert also raised the alarm on the rising spate of sexual violence against women and children, stating categorically that “No day passes without a reported case of sexual violence against innocent women and children.”
She said it was for this reason that the 16 Days of activism has come to stay as a global activism fortnight whereby individuals, governments and non-governmental organisations are expected to engage in various advocacies, including against sexual abuse.
Udonta, however, drew the attention of the audience to the fact that a research carried out by her organization some time ago, and which was published, showed that 77 per cent of victims of sexual violence in Nigeria are children. Explaining the reality of sexual violence against children in Nigeria, Udonta said that “you will agree with me that there is no day that cases of sexual violence against children are nor reported in the media. We have a case whereby a two year old child was raped. We have a case whereby a six months old baby was defiled. We have several cases which we need to draw the world’s attention to,” she explained.
Philomena Nneji, representing the Federation of Women lawyers, FIDA said her organization is passionate about women and children particularly with respect to the prevalence of sexual violence in Nigeria. “We are here to lend our voice to eradicating gender-based violence and all forms of violence in Nigeria in particular and in the whole world in general. We are also encouraging everyone to amplify their voices against this dehumanizing and barbaric act. The theme for this year is quite apt, looking at the incidence of violence in our country. FIDA stands against rape and other sexual violence. And we have been engaging ourselves in legislative advocacy from this angle,” she stated.