A Muslim group, Network for Democracy and Development, on Monday urged governments to do more to protect and rehabilitate rape victims.

In a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Mr Tajudeen Alabede and  Director of Public Affairs, Dr Abdul-Wasi Moshood, the group described the rate of rape in the country as worrisome.

It condemned rape, and  urged  governments to ensure that  perpetrators would be adequately punished.

“We are particularly worried by the recent upsurge in the crime of rape in Nigeria.  Statistics released by the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team a few days ago is alarming.

“It is, therefore, important that governments make more concerted efforts to protect and rehabilitate victims of rape.

“While stigmatisation of victims of rape should be a punishable offence, victims and their families should be encouraged to report the crime to appropriate government agencies.

“It is the rapist rather than the victim that should be shamed,” it said.

The  group noted that the statistics showed that from January 2020 to April 2020, a total of  529 rape and domestic violence cases were taken to court in Lagos State.

“The figure is for only Lagos State over a period of just four months.

“We dare say that those cases were merely the reported ones as many more cases of rape and domestic violence may go unreported by the victims and their families for fear of stigmatisation and for other reasons.

“We are horrified by the direction of the national conversation which in part blames victims of rape for the inhuman and criminal act.

”There can be no justification for rape under any circumstance,” it said.

According to the organisation,  rape is an act of violence that robs the victim of her dignity and sometimes her future and her life.

”Many victims of rape live with the attendant mental, physical, emotional and social trauma throughout their lives,” it added.

It described rape as a violation of the sanctity of life and the dignity of the human person.

The organisation said that the prevalence of violent behaviours in different parts of Nigeria in recent years pointed to deteriorating value system.

“We, therefore, call on the government, religious bodies, traditional institutions and women groups to provide leadership in addressing this ugly descent into the abyss, as a matter of urgent national importance.

“It is our submission that all organs of government and other critical segments of the society in Nigeria need to do more in their efforts to prevent rape and other crimes in the society.

“This makes campaign for value re-orientation imperative,” it said.

According to the group,  the security and welfare of the people are the duties of government.

“To this end, we call on the police and other relevant agencies of the executive arm of government as well as the judicial arm of government to ensure that offenders are brought to justice.

“Law enforcement agents should be trained to attend to victims with compassion and obtain their evidence in time.

“Cases of rape should be handled with dispatch, while convicted rapists, in addition to the appropriate punishment under the law, should be made to pay damages to their victims by way of restitution.

“In the same vein, the legislature should review the extant laws on rape with a view to determining the viability of the punishment for rape to serve as deterrent to any would-be rapist.

“A rapist is a potential murderer and should be treated as such,” the group said.

It commiserated with the families of recent victims of rape .

NAN

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