The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Plateau chapter, has advocated death sentence as a stringent punishment for rapists in the country.
The Chairperson of the chapter, Mrs Mary Izam, disclosed this to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Jos.
Izam urged that death sentence be meted out to all rapists in Nigeria.
She said that if death sentence was enacted as punishment for rapists, this would help in stemming the tide of rape in the country.
She said that the act of rape is close to homicide as the rapist either kills the victim physically or emotionally.
The chairperson further pointed out that the act of rape in criminal law is considered as a capital offence.
She said that subsequently a capital offence should be treated as such with a stringent punishment which would serve as a deterrent to those nursing the nefarious act.
She said that rape punishment shouldn’t be based on discretional powers of the judge in the various courts.
Izam disclosed that rape cases were barely reported because parents, caregivers and victims wanted to protect their children, wards and themselves from stigmatisation, hence the culture of silence.
She further said that other factors responsible for rape cases not being reported were social norms.
“Social norms also impede people from reporting rape cases, traditions do not permit the girls to speak when they are violated and there is this naïve belief that if the case of rape is reported it would spoil the family name,” she said.
She said that rape cases were being under reported due economic factors, stressing that some victims did not have the financial power to report to the police for investigation on the case.
This, the chairperson said, was simply because the police would ask them to provide money for medical examination.
She said that this economic factor was always a constraint that made them give up following the matter to a logical conclusion thereby impeding justice.
She said that the country had experienced a surge in rape due to the fact that the courts were shut down because of the Coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown.
Izam said that even when the rapists were caught they were usually granted bail, because the police do not want to congest their cells since the courts were locked due to the lockdown.
“With the lockdown, the courts are shut down so even when the rapist is caught there is no court to take the offender to, for prosecution that is why there is a high rate of rape.
“I think some of the perpetrators go ahead to indulge in the inhuman act simply because they know that the courts are shutdown,’’ she said.
Similarly, the national coordinator for the Association Against Child Sexual and Gender Based Violence (AACSGBV), a Non-Governmental Organisation, Dr Eris Ibi, has also lamented the surge in rape cases since the onset of the pandemic in the country.
According to Ibi, NGO has experienced a rise in the number of rape cases being reported to the NGO.
She disclosed that the NGO had witnessed a 300 per cent rise in rape cases reported to its 32 offices in states in the country since the onset of the pandemic.
She further disclosed that most rape cases were barely reported because of the issues of stigmatisation, shame, fear and intimidation
Ibi explained that most of the victims who reported the cases to the NGO to assist in prosecution later came to withdraw the cases, saying they didn’t want their names exposed or soiled.
The national coordinator said some due to fear of the unknown withdrew the cases while others were talked out of the case by the perpetrator. (NAN)