Mrs Aisha Buhari, Wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, has urged government at all levels to enforce the law on rape, to protect women and children in the country.
Mrs Buhari stated this when she received some staff of the Ministry of Women Affairs, UNICEF and National Population Commission, led by the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Dr Ezekiel Oyemomi, who came to brief her on the plan to launch an action to end violence against children, starting today, Sept. 15.
“We are aware of the national law on rape passed this year on May 25 (Prohibition Act 2015) which states imprisonment ranging from 12 to 20 years.
“I advocate for the enforcement of this law at all levels. Unfortunately, children are the most vulnerable, being exploited at different stages of their lives,’’ she stressed.
The President’s wife said it had become necessary for government and international organisations to pursue policies and laws to protect women and children against the act.
“A number of cases on violence against women and children are being reported on daily basis with the most alarming one of those happening in higher institutions of learning.
“These include sexual harassment and assaults of female students by lecturers as a result of lack of laws and appropriate actions against the perpetrators,’’ she lamented.
She said the issue of the violence against children was dear to her heart and would do every possible to salvage the disadvantage situation of children and other vulnerable groups in the society.
“It is my hope that with this renewed commitment by agencies, necessary steps will be taken to end violence against women and children particularly where this is rampant.’’
Briefing the president’s wife on the plan, Oyemomi said Nigeria had conducted the survey in collaboration with UNICEF, National Population Commission and Centre for Development of Disease Control and Prevention through the National Planning Commission.
He said so far only eight countries had conducted survey on violence against women in the world, including five countries in Africa and Nigeria was first to have done survey in West Africa.
According to Mr Oyemomi, 60 per cent of children are usually exposed to a form of violence, which ranges from physical, sexual and emotional; before the age of 18 years.
He also said that the survey conducted across the country had showed that the perpetrators were often family members, in the schools, environment and the communities. He added that out of 10 children would have experienced violence before the age of five and only 6% of the affected children revealed what happened to them.
He stressed the need to rehabilitate the victims had become necessary so that they would not become the perpetrators of the act. While adding that, if they did not have this, they might think of committing suicide, having a lot of distress, going back to drug and smoking because of the trauma in them.
He said government was committed to protecting the children and women as well as punishing the perpetrators.
Oyemomi said the ministry had dedicated a year to end the violence and would review it after.
The representative of UNICEF, Mrs Rachael Harvey, said there was need to have powerful voices to end violence against children.
She said that NGOs, CBOs, faith-based organisations, community leaders, traditional leaders, among others, must be part of strong voices to end the act.
She urged the wife of the president to be part of the strong voice to end the act in the country.
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