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EDITORIAL

Rising Cases Of Violence Against Women

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Outrage and condemnation trailed the rape and murder of a first-year student of the University of Benin (UNIBEN), Miss Uwa Omozuwa, in a parish of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), in Edo State last week. The murder provoked nationwide anger and led to the birth of the “no to rape and stop the violence against women” campaign by the media and civil society organisations.
 
As the country was still grappling with the gruesome murder of Uwa, reports filtered in that an 18-year-old student of the Federal College of Animal and Production Technology, Moore Plantation, Apata, Ibadan, in Oyo State was raped and killed in Ibadan, the state capital.
The teenager, Barakat Bello, who was undertaking the National Diploma programme in Science Laboratory Technology, was reportedly attacked on June 1, 2020. Like the case of Uwa, the murder of the teenager sparked protests on Twitter with the #JusticeforBarakat. It is pertinent to note that the anger and protests against rape was re-ignited by “Black Lives Matter” protests sweeping across the United States (US) over the killing of George Floyd, a black man, by white police officers.
As a newspaper, we are appalled by the rising cases of rape and violence against women. We recall
that recently, 16-year-old Tina Ezekwe was shot and killed by a policeman at a bus stop near her home in Lagos. Also in May, an 18-year-old girl, simply identified as Jennifer, was allegedly gangraped by five boys reported to be her friends in Kaduna State. It was gathered that the incident occurred some weeks back in Narayi, a small community in Kaduna South local government area.
 
The our stand www.leadership.ng Leadership Newspapers @leadershipNGA June 5, 2020 3 for “sex offences”. In 2014, this figure dropped to 4,436. And by the second quarter of 2015, the figure was 1,621. Records from other countries show that in South Africa, 41,583 cases of rape were recorded in
2018/19 and 52,420 cases of sexual offences generally; and at least 38,947 cases of rape were
recorded in India in 2016. Each year in the US, there are, on average, 433,648 victims of rape and
sexual assaults. It is, however, gratifying to note that the Nigerian Senate, in a motion, is putting pressure on the relevant authorities in the country to ensure stiffer punishments for rapists. The lawmakers equally asked the Executive arm of government to stage aggressive campaigns against rape. In its resolution, members called on the states’ Houses of Assembly to amend the Penal and Criminal Codes to make the penalties for rape and sexual assault stiffer so as to deter other perpetrators. Since the latest incident, thousands of Nigeria post black squares on their social media handles in support of “Black Lives Matter” movement and the incessant rape and violence against
women cases.
It is our view that the authorities must mete out stiffer punishments to rapists and sex offenders to serve as a deterrent. For instance, in 2018, India’s lower parliament passed a bill that will see death penalty handed out to anyone convicted of raping a child under 12. It ought to have been death penalty for raping any woman at all regardless of her age.
In Nigeria, due to campaigns against death penalty, we recommend life imprisonment for rape convictions resulting to death and a minimum of 30 years for sex offenders. We advise the police to also stop treating reports of rape cases in a manner that suggests that the victim is to be blamed. boys were said to have carried out the action on the teenager after giving her a liquid content – said to be a mixture of alcohol and drugs – to drink.
Similarly, we recall the death of a 13-year-old Elizabeth Ochanya Ogbaje. She had battled Vesicovaginal fistula (VVF) and other health complications at the Benue State University Teaching Hospital, Makurdi after being allegedly severely abused by one Andrew Ogbuja, Head of Department, Catering and Hotel Management at the Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo and his son, Victor Inalegwu Ogbuja, a final year student of Animal Production at the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi. The duo consistently molested little Ochanya, a student of Federal Government Girls’ College, Gboko since she was nine.
Recently, the Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, disclosed that two million Nigerians are raped every year. In a country where accurate data is hard to come by, the figures could be higher. Sadly, most rape victims often don’t report their ordeal to the police for fear of stigmatisation.
In 2017, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported that 2,279 cases of rape and indecent were recorded by police across the country. Also, figures from the Nigerian Correctional Service revealed that in 2013, 5,797 Nigerians were detained.

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