By Emeka Nwokocha
In continuation of the 16-days of global activism against gender-based violence, Development Initiative for Community Impact (DICI) in collaboration with Delta State Ministry of Women Affairs, Community and Social Development, has staged a campaign against rape and other forms of sexual violence in Okere Urhobo community, with a view to eradicating the crime in the society.
The campaign was held Wednesday, 9 December, 2020, at the community’s hall, Warri, headquarters of Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State.
The Executive Director of DICI, Mrs. Rachael Misan-Ruppee said that the campaign was organised in commemoration of the ongoing 16-days of global Activism against gender-based violence with theme, “Orange the world: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect.”
Continuing, she lamented the increase in the rate of sexual violence in Nigeria, saying that the campaign was aimed to educate the women and girls on how to curb the menace in the society, even as she tasked the women to unite against the surging crime.
She said that sexual violence could be nipped in the bud if the victims would break the silence and promptly report the cases to the police so that the perpetrators would be prosecuted.
She added, “with ongoing campaigns against rape and other forms of sexual abuse in the country, women need to rise to the occasion by speaking up against the crime and standing bold to deal with it squarely using the legal instruments available.”
She urged the women not to stigmatize victims of rape, saying, “don’t shame victims of rape in our communities. Women should protect and defend women against sexual violence. If women will shun stigmatization and work in unity to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice, sexual violence against women and girls will be curbed in our society.”
Ruppee further educated the women on legal ways to exposing and reporting incidents of rape, saying that a gender violence desk has been created at the police stations to handle cases of rape and other gender-based violence.
She advised victims of rape to report the incident at Police station immediately after the offence has been committed, saying that useful evidence that could be relied on by the police and courts in establishing the offence of rape is very important.
She said, “some of the challenges in prosecuting sexual offences range from the reluctance of victims to report such crimes, the existence of loopholes in the relevant criminal laws relating to sexual offences, ignorance of persons on the proper procedures and channels to follow when such offences occur, and the inability to prove such cases successfully when instituted.
Ruppee, also enlightened the women on the dangers of female Genital mutilation, describing the practice as crude and unlawful. In the same vein, she emphasized importance of education in the formative years of the girl child, even as she urged parents to give their children or wards the opportunity of acquiring basic education to be able to stand out in the society.
In the same vein, the Mobilisation Officer at DICI, Mrs. Jane Isiavwe, advised the women to protect their children against sexual molestation, noting that adulescent children are more vulnerable to sexual violence in the society. She advised the women to speak up against cases of rape and other forms of sexual violence in order to put a stop to the rising crime.
The women thanked DICI for organising the programme in Okere Urhobo community, even as they promised to put to practice the knowledge they have gained.
Women leaders in Okere Urhobo community, Mrs. Janet Amurun of the Egbeya group, and Chief Rebecca Oloro, commended Mrs. Ruppee and her team from DICI for the enlightenment campaign on gender-based violence. They thanked Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for the enactment of the Delta State Violence Against Person Prohibition Act 2020, saying the law would ensure the protection of women, girls, children, including men in the state.
The PRO of Okere Urhobo community, Mr. Omatseye Okpaghoro, described the event as a welcome development. He commended DICI for organising the programme in the community, saying that more of such campaigns are needed to further educate the people on how to curb the rising incidents of rape and other gender-based violence in the society.
The highpoint of the event was distribution of placards and leaflets bearing, “stop violence against women.” “Don’t stigmatize rape victims.” “Generation Equality.” “Shift the Blame, Lift the Blame, Brake the Silence.” Also, copies of simplified Delta State Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act 2020 were distributed to the participants to raise awareness on what constitutes violence and the punishments that would be meted out to perpetrators of violence.