10th March, 2011
The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) has recommended 20 yearsâ€™ jail term for child rapists.
FIDA President, Mrs. Ezinwa Okoroafor, gave the recommendation when she spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja.
â€œFIDA is calling for the new law, which is broader in its definition of sexual offences and also punishes the offenders, such that when you think that you could go to jail for 20 years, you could say to yourself, no, I wonâ€™t do this.
â€œIn the absence of limited institutional mechanisms to address violence against children and a deliberate culture of silence around issues of sexuality and abuse, such violence will continue to thrive except something drastic is done,â€ she said.
She explained that the penal code on perpetrators of child rape was not stiff enough because the Nigerian legal system had been flooded with impunity.
According to Okoroafor, the punishment is two to three yearsâ€™ jail for defilement of a 13-year-old child, noting that the punishment could not compare with the permanent damage on the childâ€™s life.
â€œChildren are vulnerable to sexual abuse because of their ignorance and trustfulness.
â€œThe effect of violating a childâ€™s right is costly, intense and long-lasting,â€ Okoroafor said.
Explaining that rapists were usually familiar people and not total strangers, Okoroafor called on parents to closely monitor their children.
â€œSexual abuse occurs everywhere, be it in the home, school, workplace or in the wider society and perpetrators think the law cannot catch up with them. Dressing has nothing to do with it or do you want to tell me that a baby is indecently dressed?
â€œAlso learn to give your children listening ears. When you are harsh or aggressive, your children will not be willing to open up to you when they are abused and such children will keep dying in silence.
â€œThat is why we are pushing for this bill. The time has come, even if it is long overdue, â€œ Okoroafor said.