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Tackling challenges of sexual assault of minors

Almost on a daily basis, we read about rape and sexual harassment of minors even by those old enough to be their grandparents. Psychologists blame this bizarre attitude on unbridled lust and an insatiable urge for sex However, defilement of underage is outlawed by Section 218 of the Criminal Code, Cap. 42, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria. The section provides inter alia: “Any person who has unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under the age of 13 years is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for life, with or without whipping. “A prosecution for either of the offences defined above in this section must begin within two months after the offence is committed. “A person cannot be convicted of either of the offences defined in this section upon the uncorroborated testimony of one witness.” Adegboyega Adenekan, a 47-year-old ex-Chrisland School Supervisor, who defiled a 2-year-old pupil in 2016, was recently sentenced to 60 years jail term by an Ikeja Domestic Violence and Sexual Offences Court. Justice Sybil Nwaka handed down the sentence after convicting Adenekan on a count charge of defiling a minor. The little child had given a detailed description of how Adenekan defiled her. According to Titilayo Shitta-Bey, the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecution, the defendant committed the crime in November 2016. While narrating the nasty experience, the police officer told the court that “the child took us upstairs to the defendant’s office and his seat and the restroom where the offence was committed According to the 2-year-old girl in a video clip of the interview with the police and shown to the court, the little girl said that the supervisor put his “wee-wee” in her “wee wee” two times. The Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Jigawa Command, also in March arrested a 65-year-old Adamu Abdullahi, for allegedly raping and impregnating a minor at Unguwar Gawo village, Babura Local Government Area. The victim, a street hawker, who deals on onions, explained that the suspect used to buy onions from her and in the process invited her into his house, where he raped her. She said that Abdullahi raped her five times and always threatens her life should she tell anybody about their affairs. “He used to give me money and threatened to kill me if I refuse; or if ever I informed anybody,” she stated. Mr Adeola Opeyemi, a human rights activist and lawyer, who shared experiences gathered at an Ogba Magistrates’ Court, Lagos State, lamented the increasing cases of rape and sexual assault against minors. According to Opeyemi, I saw many rape cases of underage, between 12 years and13 years old, with neighbour’s son or landlord’s son, as the case may be. The lawyer said that there must be the reason behind the rape of these little girls when the perpetrators could easily satisfy their sexual urge with N1000 at any brothel. He stated that a campaign against the rape of underage must be launched immediately to put a stop to such ignominious act capable of causing a devastating psychological effect on the victims. Opeyemi noted that the campaign must be now, noting that any delay could further embolden the rapists to keep perpetrating their nefarious activities, adding however that “we must not wait until it affects us.” The operatives of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) in Abuja, also arrested two suspects for allegedly raping and impregnating four schoolgirls. The suspects were one 41-year-old Festus Femi, an installation engineer and 51-year-old Luka Ekundayo, Bursar of Government Secondary School, Dangara, Abaji, Abuja. Femi was said to have raped three students of Government Secondary School, while Ekundayo was alleged to have drugged, raped and impregnated a 15-year-old student. Ekundayo was the victim’s guardian in school, and she often spent short holidays in his house. She was ill, while Ekundayo gave her some drugs to take, after taking the drugs she slept. On waking up, she saw bloodstains and felt uneasy, but did not suspect that Ekundayo, whom her grandmother handed her over to, for protection, could do anything sinister. The victim who was on scholarship was said to have been threatened by the suspect into having sex with him continuously or he would be forced to tell her sponsors to stop paying her school fees. Mrs Cynthia Jude, a psychologist, blamed the rising cases to the reluctance of the victims to report the case to the appropriate authorities. She said that the perpetrators cannot be punished to serve as a deterrent to others if the victims fail to report. Jude said that most victims of rape suffer in silence because of fears of being stigmatised, adding that reporting rape can be emotional and difficult. This according to her has left many victims to lick their wounds in silence, noting that the Nigeria structure does not encourage reporting rape cases. She, however, advised victims to think less of stigmatisation and be bold enough to report rape cases. Jude called for stiffer punishment for those who specialised in raping minors, adding that harsh provisions would dissuade perpetrators from committing the dastardly crime. The psychologist also appealed to the government to create an enabling environment, where sexual assault victims can get access to forensic medical assistance and professional counselling services. (NANFeatures)