Over 3,600 rape cases were recorded across Nigeria during the lockdown, the minister of women affairs and social development, Pauline Tallen, has said.
She made this revelation during a courtesy visit to the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, on Monday. This was contained in a statement by Mr Omo-Agege’s media office.
Her comments come amidst increase in the number of reported rape cases.
The UN Women recently reported a rise in Gender-Based Violence in Lagos State, indicating a 300 per cent increase between March and April.
Also in June, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, disclosed that the Nigerian police recorded 717 rape cases between January and May.
He said 799 suspects have so far been arrested while 631 cases “have been conclusively investigated and charged to court and 52 cases are still being investigated”.
Meanwhile, Mrs Tallen said reports she received from commissioners of women affairs across the 36 states of the federation revealed that during the lockdown, each state recorded not less than 100 cases of rape.
While she applauded the Nigeria Governors Forum for declaring a state of emergency on sexual and gender-based violence, the minister called for more legislation to protect the girl-child and women.
The minister also commended Mr Omo-Agege for sponsoring the anti-sexual harassment bill recently passed by the Senate.
In his remark, Mr Omo-Agege said the approval of the sexual harassment bill by the Senate is in furtherance of its legislative agenda, which seeks the protection of women’s rights.
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When signed into law, he said, “it would not only send a strong signal to those who may want to abuse women and ensure that students are not at the mercy of sexual predators”.
“For most of us who went through higher institutions, we know what happened. It is just that some would rather see it as business as usual,” he said. “But having convinced my colleagues that this shouldn’t be business as usual and we needed to arrest the situation, we had to rise above our cultural, ethnic and religious differences to be able to make the case that an attack of this nature on our daughters, sisters, wives in Warri is not any different from an attack in Sokoto, Maiduguri or anywhere.”
“And we needed to move past that culture of lecturers who see our young women as perquisites of their offices. And we thought we should put a stop to that,” he added.
“We are also in support of strengthening our anti-rape laws both under the criminal code and penal code. We will also make it in such a way that there will be better appetite for enforcement of the laws, once we create the enabling environment that encourages the prosecutors to prosecute it, the better for us.”
On affirmative action, he said the Senate would examine what obtains in other jurisdictions and make informed decisions.
Other lawmakers present at the meeting include Betty Apiafi, Stella Oduah and Akon Eyakenyi.