A non-governmental organization of women lawyers has kick-started the ‘Unite Against Rape’ campaign with the aim of putting an end to violence against women in Nigeria.
The African Women Lawyers Association (AWLA), at a press conference on Saturday in Asaba, Delta State, said the campaign was designed to raise public awareness and advocacy to prevent and eradicate rape and all forms of sexual violence happening in homes, offices, schools, and religious centres, among others.
Speaking through its chairperson, Awele Ideal, AWLA noted that the victims rape were mostly women and girls who either die or suffer depression, discrimination and stigmatization all through their lives after being assaulted sexually.
Ideal said: “Today should be a sober day for us all because we have realized that if we fail to do something about this crime, it will continue to reoccur and our wives, sisters and daughters will all become endangered species.
“This is why AWLA is calling on everyone to join us in this urgent campaign to UNITE AGAINST RAPE. So how do we Unite? We can do so by ensuring the following;
“Full implementation of the Laws to the letter. Our Legal Framework that we depend on are the Constitution, Criminal Code, Penal Code, Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, Child’s Rights Law, Administration of Criminal Justice Act and the Fundamental Enforcement Rules, including the regional and international conventions. These are the tools that are required for effective prosecution against these perpetrators of sexual violence as well as accelerated hearing at the trials. It also serves as instrument to shame these sex offenders and ensure we get justice for the victims and survivors.
“Partnering with the law enforcement agencies, government agencies, the Judiciary, Executive and Legislative arms of government, NGOs, the Civil society, the male champions, the grassroots and the entire society. No one should be left behind in this UNITE call.
“Partnering with the Ministry of Education for inclusion of sex education and human rights in the curriculum of schools from primary to tertiary.
“Taking preventive measures like what we are doing now and action to wipe out Rape from our world. We are amplifying our voices loud and clear to the entire world that the crime of rape, defilement, abduction, domestic violence, sexual harassment and all ramifications of crimes against women and girls will no longer be tolerated. We say ENOUGH is ENOUGH We therefore advocate death Penalty, Life Imprisonment or even castration for these brutes in human skins.
“Through this call, we are also encouraging our women and girls to speak out. We should stop stigmatizing or discriminating against these women when they speak out. They need our support, protection and empathy.
“We implore the government to provide more transient homes or safe shelters for victims and survivors as well as protection, welfare packages and health care packages. They also need to be empowered. We in AWLA have keyed into this program.”
The NGO further urged members of the public to partner with its organization to protect and preserve the rights and interests of women and girls in the society.