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Sexual offences vs rape in Nigeria (2)

Muiz Banire > The Sun Articles  > Sexual offences vs rape in Nigeria (2)

Sexual offences vs rape in Nigeria (2)

Th’ expense of spirit in a waste of shame Is lust in action; and till action, lust Is perjured, murd’rous, bloody, full of blame, Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust – Shakespeare, Sonnet 129

Again, unlike other climes where children are taught the criminal implications of sexual offences, this is lacking in our system and equally contributes substantially to the proliferation of the offences. Various lockdown periods due to COVID-19 also contributed to the exponential increase. In fact, a sizeable number of people became deranged and committed sexual offences regularly.

Regrettably, no provision was made till date for the class of mental specialists/therapists to treat people as frontline workers. Not acceptable, however, are the suggestions that provocative ways our women dress or the unholy hangouts they find themselves in are responsible.

We have found cases of women in hijab being raped by mentally deranged perverts who can even rape a masquerade once they are sure it is a woman that is under the mask. Cases have been reported recently of bestiality in which some men have been raping animals. This probably does not disturb us because many think animals do not deserve to have rights. Generally, I believe that the collapse of moral values and virtues constitutes part of the reasons for the proliferation.

There is no more sense of right and wrong in the nation. Sense of shame has disappeared from our society. In fact, there is the suggestion in some quarters that provocation is a justifiable factor. As the proverb goes, a ni ki a ba ni b’ole wi, eni ibi ti olohun gbe si naa o dara, which translates literally that we request punitive justice for the thief, you said the owner should not have been careless.

This is a product of a perverted reasoning. Be that as it may, may we proffer the following as solutions to the challenges highlighted above? First, reporting centres for sexual offences need to be created across all local government areas in the country. They are to be manned by specially trained officers, civilians and police, because of the criminal nature of rape and other sexual offences.

The centres must also have full complement of seasoned investigators, specially trained on sexual offences. As we all know, this effort cannot deliver much result without qualified prosecutors also. Thus, in terms of all the foregoing, they must be specially recruited and trained personnel. The laws need to be amended to forbid withdrawal of charges on sexual offences except by the attorney-general alone.

Although I learnt that the Office of Sexual Offences, under the Attorney-General of Lagos State, has commenced advocacy at the primary and secondary levels, the effort is still like a drop of water in the ocean. We need to form cells among all the civil society groups to aggressively start this campaign so as to catch them young and instil the knowledge and fear of the commission of sexual offences in pupils.

The war against drug usage and abuse needs to be intensified. As I earlier remarked, we must mount a huge campaign against sexual assault and sexual harassment as a matter of urgency.

Our achievements in respect of the latter will substantially impact our success on rape and sexual assault involving penetration. Regarding the mental angle to this issue, there is urgent need for provision of mental health posts across the nation, where people can access therapists easily in any form.

Our religious leaders need to be admonished, if not warned, about abusing their fiduciary duties against molesting women. This applies to teachers as well as masters of maids who stand in the same fiduciary position. The public and unbridled display of sex enhancers in public spaces needs to be regulated. The societal stigmatization of victims of sexual offences must be discouraged and worked upon assiduously. In the same way, all those retrogressive inhibitions in our culture, such as those alluded to above, must be urgently addressed through the traditional institutions.

Undoubtedly, these recommendations are by no means exhaustive of the solutions to the menace. In terms of penalty or sanction for these heinous crimes, the stiffest penalty now appears to be life imprisonment. Although I understand that, under the New Testament, the sanction is ‘forgive and forget’, unlike under the Old Testament with stoning, the Sharia position is death.

I personally support death sentence, as rapists must not be given a second chance of committing the crime. They don’t belong to this society of civilised people. This barbaric act must stop!

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