The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has called for rape to be treated as a pandemic.
He also urged both the leaders and the citizens in the country to rise against rape, calling for stiffer punishment for rapist apart from more awareness and educating Nigerians on the dangers of rising rape incidences in the country.
He made the call on Wednesday when he hosted a delegation of the Movement Against Rape and Sexual Violence (MARS-V) led by a wife of Kaduna State governor, Hajiya Aisha-Ummi Garba El-Rufai, who is also a UNFPA Ambassador on Fistula.
According to him, the statistics on rape cases in Nigeria is mind-boggling and that it should be seen as a pandemic thus, every stratum of the society, including the media, must play their roles in the fight against the rape pandemic.
“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 is only a deprived mind that can engage in rape. I consider the issue of rape as a pandemic. In my estimation, it is a pandemic.
“The issue of rape should be treated the way coronavirus 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. 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.
He also urged Nigerians holding various religious views on rape to help educate the people against the rape scourge.
The Speaker noted that Nigerian laws related to rape are weak and would not deter people from engaging in the act, hence the need for stiffer penalties for offenders.
Speaking earlier, Mrs. El-Rufai who earlier in the morning led a procession of women and other placard-carrying members to a rally at the Unity Fountain drew the Speaker’s attention to the rising cases of rape in the country.
According to her, it was becoming alarming and that urgent action needed to be taken.
She said, “Our women are raped to death and butchered even in churches and mosques where God is worshiped.”
She said that over 7,000 lives have been brutalised, with some destroyed and others terminated, while perpetrators of such heinous acts are not brought to justice as the laws appear to be lenient and therefore called for life imprisonment for rapists among other stiffer punishments.
Also, the spokesperson of the MARS-V, Hajiya Rahma Abdulmajeed, said that while stiffer penalties is being sought for, implementing the penalties is the best form of addressing the menace to deter others.