FEMI Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives on Wednesday likened incidents of rape and Sexual Based Violence (SBV) in the country to the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic, saying rape deserves equal attention as the disease.
The Speaker demanded an offensive attack against the scourge, stressing that rape incidents and associated crime were becoming ‘mind-boggling.’
“The statistics are very alarming…you hear figures in terms of rape and gender-based violence that are mind-boggling…I consider the issue of rape as a pandemic. In my estimation, it’s a pandemic,” Gbajabiamila reacted during his meeting with the Movement Against Rape and Sexual Violence (MARS-V) led by Aisha Ummi el-Rufai, Wife of the Kaduna State Governor.
He told the delegation who visited him at the National Assembly that though 95 per cent of rape victims are women, the menace deserves deliberate and collective action.
“The issue of rape should be treated the way Corona is treated. How do we treat a pandemic? There has to be a frontal onslaught,” he said stressing the role of the media, religious leaders and policymakers to increase on awareness creation against the criminal act.
He said rape issues should be at the front burner emphasising on the whole lots of works to be done from diverse perspectives.
The lawmaker, who admitted on the weak regulatory framework enacted to curtail the incidents described rape happenings as ‘sickening’, thus deserve stiffer punishments to prevent abusers from committing the act.
“In a pandemic, you look for a cure. No sane man would have sexual intercourse with a 3-month old baby. The idea alone is sickening,” Gbajabiamila said.
In her remarks, el-Rufai analysed how rape victims were often killed after being abused, even at religious houses.
She said the situation was becoming worrisome, hence the visit to the national assembly to seek legislative support. While rolling out figures, el-Rufai said within five months there were 717 reported rape cases in the country and 7,170 incidents of rape that were unreported.
“Our women are raped to death and butchered even in churches and mosques where God is worshipped,” she said clamouring for proper law and more stringent punishment to prosecute those found guilty of rape offences.
The Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act was enacted in 2015 to check the scourge of rape in the country but several reports have shown the ineffectiveness of the law, thus demanded more severe punishment.
Though, the VAPP Act recommends life imprisonment for people found guilty of rape, a maximum of 14 years imprisonment was listed for an accused who is less than 14 years of age.
In other cases, those found liable could be sentenced to 12 years maximum jail term without an option of fine.
Based on Section 2 of the VAPP Act, the court is empowered to award the right compensation to the victim as it deems necessary.
A recent report commissioned by The ICIR also revealed how Bauchi State, for instance, was considering to adopt the Sharia Law to deter rape cases in the state.
Despite concerns about VAPP, only 23 States are yet to domesticate the Act.