The Salamah Sexual Assault Referral Centre, Kaduna, has called for the effective implementation of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015 to check the rising incidence of rape across the country.
The Centre Manager, Mrs Juliana Joseph, made the call in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja.
She bemoaned the rising cases of rape and other forms of violence in the society, attributing the development to the failure to adequately implement the legal framework to check the criminal tendencies.
She stressed that the enforcement the VAPP law would facilitate efforts to stem violence against persons because the law was meant to check the perpetrators of such crimes.
“For now, people commit the crimes and get away with it because there is no instrument to prosecute them but once this instrument comes onboard, they are going to be prosecuted.
“And if the law is truly enforced; the menace of rape in this country will be addressed because the problem is not with the provision of the law but with its enforcement.
“Once one person is prosecuted, it would serve as a deterrent to others; rape, for instance, will consequently be reduced it to the barest minimum because you cannot eradicate it; you can only reduce it.
“People will begin to see others as fellow human beings and not as articles that can be used and abused anyhow,’’ she said.
Joseph said that the centre had been inundated with records of cases of violence against persons.
“What is even more worrisome is the growing incidence of fathers sexually abusing their biological daughters; there is almost no type of violence that has not been recorded at the centre.
“We have received cases of rape of boys, of girls, of married women that were kidnapped from their farms and of married women kidnapped from their matrimonial homes before they were sexually abused.
“This is because people do them with impunity knowing that nothing will be done.
“When this happens, the crime is reported to the traditional rulers and from there, they say let us cover this crime and the person is thereby shielded from prosecution.
“But I can tell you that anybody who once raped someone stands the chance of raping another person again.
“So, the rapist can become a serial rapist because there is no enforcement of the law that will help to check what happens in the society.
“Unfortunately, it is very painful to note that most of the clients that we have received at the centre are 15 years and below; this is very worrisome,’’ she added.
Joseph blamed some incidences of suicide on rape cases which were not properly managed.
“How can you counsel children and think you are counselling them when the trauma is bottled up inside them; this is why we witness rising cases of suicide.
“Wife or husband battering could be linked to rape that took place in a child’s life and was not properly addressed; the person has the trauma bottled up and he or she takes it out on the society in a form of revenge.
“It is good that the government is looking at sexual violence seriously because it is a very serious crime.
“You need to see when a person comes in traumatised as if the whole world has collapsed on her.
“But once the traumatised person gets counselling and treated in a friendly environment, the person goes out smiling and saying `I never knew I could pick the bits and pieces of my life and move on’,’’ she said. (NAN)