Amidst increasing cases of rape in the country, a renewed call has been made seeking effective laws and strict penalties for rapists.
The call was made by speakers and participants at a webinar organised by a group, Bants and Facts founded by Basil Ikpe.
Keynote speakers, Mr. Uduma Emmanuel, the Creative Lead at SMAT MEDIA and Executive Director of Media Career Development Network, Lekan Otufodunrin shared their thoughts with participants at the webinar.
It was noted that there is need for prompt prosecution of rapists in view of the present situation where cases drag for too long and not ensuring justice for the victims in some cases.
Special courts which do not require payment of any fee by the victims was also recommended to encourage them to speak up and seek help.
The speakers cited strict laws in other countries which have led to a reduction in rape cases.
The problems of rape
On the mental problems of a rape victim, it was noted that such victims can suffer from; post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), nightmares, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts.
Other symptoms are depression, including prolonged sadness, feelings of hopelessness, unexplained crying, weight loss or gain due to eating disorder, loss of energy or interest in regular activities and suicidal thoughts.
Mrs. Janine Fontaine who joined in from London, advised that victims of rape should try and see a counselor, as that will go a long way to healing them of the memories
The Emotional problems of a rape victim; the Moderator Dami Dawson of Linda Ikeji TV said the challenge female rape victims have include trusting others, sudden anger and blame shifting, shock when physical emotions are introduced in relationships, loss of control, disorientation, helplessness at work place and sense of vulnerability to any other genuine suitor.
These are inclusive of the physical problems of injuries due to forceful penetrations, infections and possible pregnancy.
Challenges faced by rape victims and activists:
Otufodunrin cited the media laws that prevents victims of certain ages to be mentioned in a broadcast or images attached to a rape publication to avoid stigmatisation and emotional trauma. Participants were not in agreement with this law, as most of them aired the views that if victims come out boldly to mention the names of their rapist, people will relate with them and such rapist will be dealt with.
The society, as a participant said is to be blamed as excuses on the female gender’s outfit is always provocative, hence the rapist finds an excuse to settle on while the society pat his/her back using seductive dressing as an excuse. It further emphasises the need for enlightenment on the meal figure and morals of self-control.
The ability for them to come openly and speak without being discriminated or giving personal interrogation rather than investigating the acts and accused.
The challenge will be to continuously identify and adapt solutions to adjust to the changing strategies used by rapist in carrying out such acts as there are no security cameras as mentioned by a participant Miss Sayo Adeshola a graduate of Micro Biology from CALEB University, who joined in from Ogun State, Lagos, Nigeria.
Way forward to the fight against rape:
This will require collaboration at multiple levels beyond Bants and Facts members, security agents, other activists. These as was discussed can be achieved in the following capacity:
Lying and observational and detective equipment should be provided to affirm such accusations as suggested by Miss Shayo in defence of bringing in technology into the platform. As this will reduce the level of rumours and denials between claimed victims and the accused rapist.
Emmanuel mentioned using social media platforms and creating short videos and skits that speaks against, as one of the ways to campaign against it with unitised voice on the issue.
Furthermore, a call for other media houses to make it one of the centre topics of discussion across the various platforms will go a long away to cube the acts.
Community participation is another agreed way with religious leaders and their members will be an effective strategy to silencing and killing the boldness of intending rapists.
To effectively perform these strategies, the participants ask that the government implement strict laws into the constitution and a fast judicial implementation of such laws and a special court that handles that without little or no financial funds involved which will allow more victims to speak out and seek for help.
The religious body was also mentioned to work in hand with experts in encouraging any victim to seek professional counseling on such matters.
Victims and females should have with them protection items like pepper spray to use against such harassments.
Females in general should be more conscious of walking alone along lonely paths; pending when technologies are set in place with the communities.
Policing oneself be wearing fitted jeans within an outfit was recommended for adults during outing, which will go to an extent to give them for the victim to call for help before the act is carried out by such wicked persons.
Working laws in other countries:
The speakers did site the strict laws in other countries like; India: Life imprisonment to death sentence with the bill passed in April 2013, France, 15 years of life imprisonment which can be extended to 30 years pending on the brutality or damaged caused by the rapist to the victim, Chinese laws says a confirmed rapist faces a death sentence or castration, Saudi Arabia law states that the affirmed rapist is beheaded within days of the court’s final verdict.
Looking at their current rape cases ratio to have dropped drastically due to such back-u by the laws and execution of the same laws.
What is expected of members and activists:
The webinar was attended by 25 participants inclusive, hosts/presenters. The organizational background and the expectations of the participants is to use local religious community heads, seeking a platform to enlighten their congregations on the need of sexual self-control and more. This will be effective immediately the lock-down caused by the Covid-19 pandemic is lifted.
The organisation seeks well-meaning individuals who desire the important change in the society and have the media influence, social media and can provide platforms (online and offline) for individuals to push the needed change within a community to join in this movement by filling the membership form bellow.