SING Nigeria stands with the world today in speaking out against the pervasive culture of rape, in commemoration of the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Since the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women in 1993, the world has made steady advancements in eliminating this scourge and associated crimes against women, which are fuelled by conflict and a general atmosphere of silence and victim shaming.
As Nigerians, we may have been socialized into believing that men are the dominant gender, but nothing could be further from the truth as our history is replete with records of unbelievable feats by women.
From the great Queen Amina of Zaria to the brave Aba women, who stood up against draconian rule during the colonial era.
We cannot forget the exploits of national pioneers such as Mrs. Olufunmilayo Ransome Kuti who stood for the rights of women in Abeokuta and was a key leader during the struggle for Nigerian independence. The role of women in several of our local cultures in sustaining families remains legendary as even the famous groundnut pyramids that contributed to the national economy wouldn’t have happened without the efforts of the countless women who worked behind the scenes to process the groundnuts for bagging.
Today our country is better for having strong feminine voices in governance and business and it is imperative that if we must develop we must create an atmosphere that allows women to develop their potentials and express their abilities for nation building. It is a source of great concern to us at SING Nigeria that women are still victims of many of the dysfunctions that have been normalized in Nigeria today.
Today as the world commemorates the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Agaisnt Women – under the theme: Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands Against Rape – we at SING Nigeria joins the world in demanding an end to rape and associated crimes such as trafficking in women, child marriage and forced labour among others.
Nigeria can see an end to these injustices against, by putting measures in place to prevent it and by creating safe spaces for victims to report acts of rape and for justice to be dispensed in good time.
A dominant culture that blames and shames victims of rape and other crimes against women, cannot engender sustainable development in any form over the long term. The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and the Nigerian Police Force, as leading law enforcement agencies in tackling issues of rape and allied offences, must be more proactive in handling such matters. There is a need for more sustained public enlightenment on the rights of women and the channels through which such rights can be enforced.
The relevant provisions of the Child Rights Act and Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act should be enforced, while weaker sections ought to be strengthened by the National Assembly. We are especially concerned that the requirements of the law with respect to proving rape ought to be looked into with a view to making them more realistic in bringing perpetrators of rape to book.