Okei-Odumakin calls for criminalisation of rape, sexual violence against girls

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Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin
Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin

By Lydia Ngwakwe

Lagos – An NGO, Women Arise for Change Initiative, on Saturday urged the Federal Government to criminalise rape and all forms of sexual violence against women and girls in the country.

Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, president of the group, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that this conduct was prevalent in the country because many perpetrators were not punished.

The rights activist was reacting to a statement by Sierra Leonean President, Julius Maada Bio, on Thursday declaring rape and sexual violence a “national emergency.’’

Bio said sexual attacks on minors would be punishable with life imprisonment.

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Okei-Odumakin said: “We must, as a nation learn from this; our leaders must develop the political will as demonstrated by the Sierra Leone President and criminalise rape and all forms of sexual violence.

“This unfortunate conduct remains prevalent in our society because perpetrators always find their way out of the prosecution routes, thereby making victims more vulnerable.

“The 2003 Child Rights Act clearly criminalises rape of minors with stringent punishment. It clearly prescribes jail terms ranging from 14 years, to life,’’ she said.

According to her, one significant observation of her organisation is that there has been a very low level of awareness about the sexual and domestic violence desk created by the Nigeria Police.

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She called on the Police to carry out civic education for people to know and take advantage of the department created by it to curb the menace.

Okei-Odumakin said that low awareness was the reason citizens had not effectively utilised the sexual and domestic unit created to tackle the menace.

“It is, therefore, my view that the police, being a primary institution for the prosecution of such crimes, must do more of public enlightenment and civic education, towards ensuring that citizens take advantage of the opportunities offered by the office in the quest toward curbing sexual and domestic violence.

“Even though the police is making efforts at meeting the purpose for the creation of this office, that department has not been making enough progress in justifying its mandate, to the satisfaction of the Nigerian people,’’ Okei-Odumakin said.

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