By Olivia Obijiaku
The Chairperson of International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Zaria Branch, Dr (Mrs.) Lateefat .A. Bello has lamented the increasing rate of rape cases in Zaria and environs. She made this known as a discussant at ‘The Agora Conference for All Women’ which took place in Our Lady of Perpetual Pastoral Centre Graceland Zaria, Kaduna State, on Saturday, 19th February, 2022.
The lawyer noted that some parents are too busy for their children to the extent that rape and incest go unnoticed under their nose and called for more time for children, irrespective of how tightly scheduled one may be.
“It is our fault that the centre is no longer holding.” Dr Bello blamed. “When was the last time you sat with your child to discuss his/her challenges and fear about the world around him? Do you know where your child is right now? We have become competitors in a race where no one wins. The insecurity we are facing today is inside our homes. It is not affecting a particular religion alone. Religion is no longer our problem, so let’s forget about religion.”
Barr. (Mrs.) Clementina Okeke
“Since the inauguration of FIDA Zaria Branch last October, the number of reported rape cases is more than thirty. I don’t think Sodom and Gomorrah did as much as what we are witnessing in Zaria today. The painful thing is that most reported cases end up in settlements because of fear of stigmatization that the girls may never marry due to the abuse. There is still hope for Nigeria but let us eschew religious and tribal sentiments and put all hands-on deck to fight the menace that is gradually destroying the very fabric of our existence as a nation.”
On her part, the MC at the event Barr (Mrs.) Clementina Okeke called on mothers to make friends with children so as to close the gap between them and their unsuspecting abusers. Her words, “Make friends with your children and bond with them. Rape is happening here in Zaria and it is not from strangers. It is happening all around. Don’t sit down and say ‘it’s not my child.’”
In an interview with Daily Updates Publication thereafter, the president revealed that visits to police station help in ensuring that statements and investigations that are needed for First Information Report (FIR) are gathered and that the needed intervention and counseling is provided for victims and their families. She lamented few reported cases despite the reality that indicates that many more victims are trapped in the crowd.
On how to curb the trend, she intimates thus, “Following a recent visit to the Emirate Council, the association has been given the go ahead to embark on massive public sensitization on this. Radio Nigeria has also granted us a program on public sensitization on these heinous crimes and impacts on societal growth. This we intend to commence soonest. Every year, we plan is to visit schools, communities and other public places for sensitization.”
The leader further unveiled the availability of platforms like human rights organizations; help lines from National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons as well as hospital help desks that assist victims of rape.