BY Obinna Ogbonnaya |
The European Union (EU) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Tuesday expressed concerns over the increasing rate of defilement, rape cases and other forms of violence against women, girls and children in Ebonyi State and called on the judiciary to ensure accelerated justice to serve as deterrence to would-be offenders.
The UNICEF desk officer in the National Orientation Agency (NOA) in State, Mr. Uchenna Unah, expressed the worry during a sensitisation programme on ‘end violence against women, girls and children’ in Abakaliki local government area of the state.
According to Mr. Unah, “the incident of rape and defilement in Ebonyi State is high especially the children and the infants. We have consistently been getting report of defilement. The worrisome situation is that some of the cases we have been getting involved infants within One year being defiled.
“But we must commend the Ebonyi State Police, they have been up and doing in ensuring that such cases are adequately investigated. The Ministry of Women Affair and Social Development and the Ministry of Justice in Ebonyi State have also not left any stone unturned in handling such cases.
“We will also advocate that such cases be given accelerated hearing and justice meted to the perpetrators to serve as deterrence to others. I can tell you that there are many cases of defilement, rape and other forms of violence against women, girls and Children in the state and we are optimistic that they will do justice to such cases.”
Unah said that the sensitisation programme organised for men of faith-based organisation, is the second phase of the programme, which is an initiative of EU-UN spotlight initiative supported by UNICEF adding that there has been change of attitude among men who before now see violence against women especially their wives as a norm and culture.
“It is regrettable that in one of our sensitisation programme, one of the participants, a woman openly informed the gathering that she sees nothing wrong in the husband beating her. That she only fells bad if while beating her she sustains injury.
“With the support of EU-UN and UNICEF, we will continue the sensitization until all our men especially in the rural communities begins to have a change of attitude towards the woman, girls and Children. The women should not be seen by men as a commodity that was purchased but should accord them the respect and love needed,” he added.
He, therefore, called on the women, girls and children to always voice out when they are violated or raped, adding that from available records, perpetrators of violence against women and girls are mostly, neighbours, friends, classmates and strangers.
He noted that part of the causes of violence against women and girls include gender inequality and discrimination influenced by historical and structural power imbalance between women and men, which exist in varying degrees across communities of the state.
The UNICEF and NOA desk officer noted that the agencies would continue to campaign against physical, emotional and sexual abuses, and neglect, which has been identified as major cases of violence against children in Ebonyi State.