By Justina Auta
Abuja – Women groups in the FCT, on Monday, staged a walk around the metropolis, demanding speedy prosecution of perpetrators of rape and other sexual offenders as a way of ending the menace in the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the walk took the women groups to the office of the Inspector-General of Police and the Supreme Court, both in Abuja.
NAN also reports that the women groups, comprising UN agencies, faith-based organisations, businesswomen as well as female military and paramilitary personnel, were engaged in the walk to end rape.
The women, clad in orange T-shirts, carried placards, with inscriptions such as “Stop Blaming the Victims or Survivors’’; “Stop Rape Now or Be Castrated’’; “No Means No’’; “Stand Against Rape’’ and “Stop Demanding Sex for Grades, Food’’ among others.
They trekked from the Eagle Square to the Supreme Court, the Force headquarters to the Ministry of Women Affairs to express their grievances.
The Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen, said the walk was part of the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, which sought to create more awareness on all sexual offences and violence against women and children.
“The menace of rape is on the increase and at a very alarming rate.
“Reports of rape are on the news everyday and it is heartbreaking to know that children and women are living in perpetual fear on daily basis.
“In view of your strategic role as the apex court in Nigeria, coupled with the trust and goodwill you inspire, that my ministry is appealing for speedy prosecution of perpetrators of rape to end impunity and ensure enforcement of law and social justice for all,’’ she said.
Responding, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, represented by Mr Ibrahim Gold from the Litigation Department of the apex court, restated the commitment of the judiciary to ensuring the prosecution of perpetrators of rape.
He urged the women groups to educate the public, especially victims of rape and other forms of gender-based violence, to seek justice in the court of law.
Muhammed also encouraged women to attend court proceedings during the hearing of rape cases to narrate the incidents themselves.
Similarly, the minister, who led the women to the office of the Inspector General of Police, appealed to the police to ensure that all cases of rape and sexual offences against women and children were treated with all seriousness and confidentiality.
Tallen urged the police to investigate fully and facilitate collection of forensic evidence of all sexual offences.
This, she said, would aid the prosecution of perpetrators and ensure that their data were updated at the sexual offenders’ registry.
“The police are the foundation of any case and, if we do not get it right, all the others will not work,’’ she said.
Responding on behalf of the IG, the DIG Operations, Abdulmajid Ali, assured the women of the commitment of the police authorities in ensuring that all perpetrators of the crime were arrested and prosecuted in accordance with the law.
He said that the police had trained its officers and men handling rape and other sexual offences, adding that they would be dispatch to different commands to enable them to handle such incidences and protect the lives of women and children.