There is the urgent need for the Federal Government , the National Assembly and other authorities to declare a national emergency on the incidence of rape in the country.
Too many cases of rape in recent times have necessitated firm policies to protect girls and women against sexual predators. Girls and women are no longer only contending with being stalked and raped by unfamiliar predators.
Even fathers are being frequently reported to have raped their own teenage daughters. Also, rapists do not spare old women their sexual violence.
The consequences of this sexual violence are endless. Some predators kill their victims so that they will not have the opportunity to expose them. The damage done to the reproductive organs of some young victims would not allow them to have children in life. Other victims live with the trauma for life.
This plague has festered because predators are not being punished. In most cases, the victims are too ashamed or scared to report their ordeals to the appropriate authorities.
But even those who summon up the courage to report do not have their cases given the right attention. Either authorities such as the police hastily dismiss the victims or they connive with the suspects to suppress justice.
In some cases, the suspects having been freed by the police, they return home to threaten their victims and their families. Even in cases that get to the courts, the victims find it difficult to convince judges of the genuiness of their claims.
But to stem the rape tide, judges should not hesitate to inflict the severest sentence on any person found guilty of this crime.
Thus, if this plague must stop, so much is required from the government.It is incumbent on it to set the tone that rape is no longer tolerated in the country. The government should set a template of severe punishment for culprits.
There should not be sacred cows. Anyone found guilty of rape should be duly punished. A situation where those who are supposed to be the custodians of the law and morality are the ones who are found guilty of rape cases should not be tolerated.
The government should be interested in the cases of rape involving fathers and daughters and other close relations. The government should strongly object to such cases being treated as “family affairs.” If a father or any other family member is found guilty, he should be made to face the law.
The first port of call of rape victims in their bid to seek justice is a police station. But in most cases, it is here the case is frustrated .
Therefore, the police should be given a new consciousness that would propel them to give reported rape cases the right attention. The police should be equipped with the right facilities that would enable them to do a necessary investigation before prosecution.
Victims should be encouraged to come out boldly to expose the cases of rape. In this regard, the society should avoid stigmatising rape victims. Rather, members of the society should rally round victims until they get justice and overcome their trauma.
It is commendable that the Senate has passeed a bill to check sexual harassment in the universities. But it should go further to stop rape by passing the anti-rape bill before it. It should rework laws that have been hindering the effective prosecution of rape cases. Now is the time to stop the rape plague.