The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in collaboration with other rights based Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) embarked on a one-week sensitization against rape and other Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in Ebonyi State on Tuesday.
According to the NHRC Co-ordinator in Ebonyi, Mr Christopher Okorie, the sensitization was aimed at educating the public on the implications of rape and other Gender-based Violence.
Okorie said that proper awareness and information on rape and Gender-based Violence were part of key steps to addressing the monster currently plaguing the society and called for extra support from stakeholders to tackle it.
The week-long campaign which kicked off on Monday, June 15, 2020, was geared toward achieving zero tolerance to rape and other sexual violence, which were on the rise in the State.
The NHRC Co-ordinator was optimistic that the sensitization will bring a re-orientation in the lives of rapists, whom he noted live among their victims and thus help to reduce the rising trend.
“There is a spike in the number of rape and gender-based violence in the State, yet most of these cases still go unreported.
“The essence of the week-long advocacy, which will be taken to the rural areas, is to equip the people with strategic information on the dangers of rape, what to do when sexually molested, as well as ways to seek legal redress.
“The NHRC is in collaboration with Human Rights and Conflict Resolution (HRCRC); Child Protection Network (CPN), Human Rights Defender and Liberty Access (HRDLA) and the Girls Guild Association (GGA), among others.
“The rate of proven incidences of rape and Gender-based Violence has reached an unprecedented proportion nationwide and this is not acceptable.
“Rape and all forms of Gender-based Violence are condemnable, criminal and punishable according to the laws of our land.
“The one-week activism programme is to officially say enough is enough to the acts and declare zero tolerance to these inhuman and criminal acts.”
The coordinator explained that the NHRC, since inception in the State in collaboration with partner agencies and organizations, had been in the fight against sexual violence, particularly those against minors.
Okorie regretted that most victims of rape and related gender-based violence usually did not like to report cases either due to fear of being stigmatized, cultural practices, among others:
“We are challenged by the lack of cooperation on the part of victims, their relatives, harmful cultural practices, ignorance, corruption and the lack of diligent investigation of alleged rape cases on the part of police.”
He, therefore, urged law enforcement agencies to continue to educate their officers on the fact that services to the public were free.
Mr George Eamesor, the Director of HRCRC, assured effective partnership with NHRC in the fight against rape and sexual violence in the State.
He commended the NHRC for the initiative, assuring his organization’s commitment in the fight for a rape-free society; justice for rape victims, rule of law, more peaceful and humane society.
He urged other collaborating organizations and the media to synergize to effectively combat rape and violent sexual crimes in the State.
“Any sexual crime committed against one person is a crime against all. We, therefore, must synergize to confront and challenge ideology that sustains the ugly status quo.
“One abuse is more than enough; HRCRC will start today to make the change we desire as we interact with the public by sensitizing them and taking action where necessary.”
No fewer than 717 rape cases have so far been reported across the country between January and June 2020.
Amaka E. Nliam