The House of Representatives Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila has said that cases of rape had become a pandemic in Nigeria and should be treated like coronavirus.
He said the issue had become one that both the leaders and the citizens in the country must rise against.
He also said that rape as a pandemic now in the country needed that every stratum of the society, including the media had a role to play in the fight against it.
Gbajabiamila spoke when he granted audience to a delegation of the Movement Against Rape and Sexual Violence (MARS-V) led by the wife of Kaduna State governor, Hajiya Aisha Ummi el-Rufai, at the National Assembly on Wednesday.
He said Nigerians, especially those that hold religious views on rape, need adequate education and awareness against the rape pandemic.
“Whilst I see so many women here with you, this is a fight not just for women. I can see some few men too, but this is a fight for all. Let a subliminal message be sent that even though over 95 per cent of the victims are women, let it be that it’s we, the men, that are championing your course.
“The statistics are very alarming on the issue of rape. You hear figures in terms of rape and gender-based violence that are mind-boggling. It’s only a deprived mind that can engage in rape. I consider the issue of rape as a pandemic. In my estimation, it’s a pandemic.
“The issue of rape should be treated the way Corona is treated. How do we treat a pandemic? There has to be a frontal onslaught. The media has a role to play. It should be in the front line. There’s a lot of work to be done from different angles.
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“In a pandemic, you look for cure. No sane man would have sexual intercourse with a 3-month old baby. The idea alone is sickening,” Gbajabiamila said.
The Speaker also said the Nigerian laws related to rape are weak, hence they would not deter people from engaging in the act, calling for stiffer penalties for offenders.
He said, “As Muslims, we should educate our people that religion is about perception, but there can only be one truth. It’s all about education and awareness. We’ll continue to push hard. We’ll bring in our scholars so that we all can be enlightened for the sake of humanity.
“Some of our laws on rape are old and need review, like many of our laws. Some of the penalties need to be stiffer. The penalties need to deter, but they can’t deter because they’re weak. We need to look at all these things holistically.”
Gbajabiamila also said he believed a lot of rape cases are not reported as victims feel ashamed to speak out, calling on them to always come forward and speak up as that is the only way more and more cases would be brought to public attention.
Earlier, Mrs el-Rufai drew the Speaker’s attention to the rising cases of rape in the country, saying it was becoming alarming and that urgent action needed to be taken.Ripples