Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, on Monday called for tougher laws against rape and sexual abuse in Nigeria.
Omo-Agege who was represented by his Senior Special Assistant on Electronic and New Media, Lara Owoaye-Wise, made this known at the launch of the campaign against rape and sexual abuse in Abuja.
The event was organised by Federation of West African Freelance Journalist Association, FWAFJA, in collaboration with National Council of Women Society, National Orientation Agency(NOA), Ministry of women Affairs among others.
Omo-Agege condemned the rising cases of rape, describing it and sexual harassment as ”bestial acts” that should be stamped out of Nigeria.
“The challenge of rape and sexual harassment of the Nigerian child is still very much with us; it seems to me that the problem has persisted either because the laws leave a lot of loopholes or the prescribed punishment is not stringent enough or both.
“Another area of obvious deficiency is in the social issues that surround the subject.
“Many parents and families for that matter are wary of stigmatisation which their child or children may suffer, sometimes for a life time; should it become public knowledge that they have been defiled.
“To this extent, there is non-disclosure of many incidents of abuse of the child,’’ he said.
According to Omo-Agege, such non-disclosures most times do not obviate the psycho-social damage which such predatory acts inflict on the child, sometimes following the victim for the rest of his or her life.
He said that he was of the opinion that Nigeria should go back to the legal instruments that protected the child from sexual as well as other forms of abuses.
This, he said was with a view to strengthening them.
“We at the National Assembly are looking at these setbacks, with a view to making our laws more potent.
“We should also as a matter of national reorientation have a change of attitude with regards to stigmatising victims of child rape,” he said.
Omo-Agege said stigmatisation should go to the culprits of child abuse and not the victims in line with the customs of old.
He said further to maintaining the customs, there was need to return to the most prized heritage as Africans, namely, family values.
He also urged parents to take out more time to raise their children to be better citizens.
Also, speaking, Mrs Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, the wife of Lagos State Governor, said that rape or sexual abuse was a bad act that should be stamped out of Nigeria.
Sanwo-Olu, represented by Mrs Motolani Ladipo, Senior Special Assistant to the Lagos State Governor, said that the survivors of rape usually face very excruciating difficulty, painful emotions and experiences.
“For us in Lagos State, sexual abuse is an evil that must be confronted frontally, and we are leaving no stone unturned in naming, shaming and sanctioning perpetrators in line with the law.”
Sanwo-Olu said the state established the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team, (DSVRT) under the Ministry of Justice dedicated to eradicate sexual and gender based violence in the state.
Amb. Abayomi Runsewe the founder of the Anti-Rape and Sexual Abuse Campaign, said increase in cases of rape was a cancer that should be stopped before it consumed all .
Runsewe said that rape and sexual abuse was now a menace that concerned the society at large Nigerians should should join hands to together and fight this disgraceful act. (NAN)