The first Lady of Kwara State, Her Excellency, Dr Mrs Olufolake Abdulrazaq, has said that victims of rape need to be well supported and not allowed to be stigmatised.
She made the statement yesterday, at an online conference organised by two non governmental organisations, Ejaosan Foundation and the Art of Play Initiative, with theme, “A Conversation Series on the Nigerian Girl and Engendering Stereotypes”.
According to Dr Mrs Abdulrazaq, “the girl child needs to be educated to understand her right that she is not inferior. Men also need to be involved in the process of reorientation. You must not allow any victim that comes out to be stigmatised but instead, give them your full support. Victims also need to find a way of collecting evidences to support their claims, for example, DNA samples, which are very useful, can be collected from even fingernails.
“In Kwara State, women are treated as important. They are being encouraged to achieve their aims on the entrepreneurial level. We have made loans available for women going into business and skills acquisition for women and girls in schools. More girls are encouraged to go to school because nothing should impede them from being educated. Organisations should make it their corporate social responsibilities (CSR) to support victims of rape.”
While speaking, another guest speaker at the conference, Cecilia Egbele, a presenter, reporter and editor at NTA Network Service, Abuja, said that, “the issue of rape needs to be treated as a mental issue because if you say that the ladies involved were not properly dressed, what about the raping of a child still wearing diaper? The society needs to be proactive and not reactive to issues of rape.
“What we need is sensitisation and resensitisation. Families should stop protecting members that are rapists and parents should encourage their girl children to be communicative with them. Our movies and on air programmes should also address this issue. There is power in repetition.”
Mr Greg Odutayo, managing director at Royal Roots and R2TV, another speaker, said that, “there needs to be a deliberate policy to ensure that the girl child is properly educated. In the north, early marriage is prevalent. The parents give out their daughters for marriage from 11years. Parents need to be encouraged to send their children to school. Girl education should be free and better health care provided.
“The issue of rape has so far been handled with kids’ gloves. The law needs to be more stringent.”
A Nigerian lecturer at Bournemouth University, United Kingdom, Dr Samantha Iwowo, also a speaker at the conference, posited that, “male folk in the society, need to be correctly sensitised that women are just as important as men in the society. The public needs to understand that the woman’s body belongs to her and certain kinds of jokes are off limits. Men need to become more disciplined.”
The hosts of the conference were, Morountodun Joseph from Ejaosan Foundation and Israel Wekpe, from the Art of Play Initiative.