Men's Roundtable: Rape of minors: Who will save our vulnerable children?

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The Men's Roundtable

The increase in cases of sexual violence, especially on minors has become quite frightening and something must be done urgently to stem the tide.

When on July 10, 2017, a 14-year-old Junior Secondary School 3 [JSS III] pupil, Obiamaka Orakwue, was reportedly raped to death in her parents' home in the Abule Ado area of Lagos State, Nigerians have been asking questions on why the issue of child rape has become so rampant in recent times.

The rape and murder of the teenager is not the first and neither will it be the last as long as the government at all levels have taken the raging malaise with levity as the child rights laws have not been enforced to its stringent forms.

The growing rate of reported rape cases of minors in Nigeria is becoming alarming and quite unacceptable. What is more dreadful is that those involved in these gruesome activities are usually let off the hook or a slap on the wrist punishment whenever they were arrested and charged to courts.

 

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Child rapists are on the prowl every other day, to the extent that toddlers are spared. We have seen situations where grown men would rape and defile one-month old babies.

Rape is now a recurring decimal in our society, with recent statistics leaving many wondering if there will ever be an end to the menace.

This situation has put the lives of our children at great physical, emotional and psychological risk.

Most of us who are parents have continuously failed our children by not being there for them, often leaving them in the hands of strangers who end up being the predators, while we pursue material things.

At that level, they are not protected; they are left to fend for themselves, while their parents go in search of their daily bread.

These days, some parents are very comfortable leaving their young children in the hands of nannies and guardians, and at the end of the day, these children are closer to the helps rather than their parents and are reluctant in telling the parents anything that happened to them in their absence.

 

Most rape cases of minors go unreported and parents do have big roles to play if the silence is to be broken. Many children do not have confidence in their parents and so, prefer to bear the pain alone.

It is more worrisome that majority of rape cases involving children go unreported principally because parents want to protect their children from probable stigmatization.

But perhaps the main challenge is that most people also realize that the victims may not get justice if they report the cases to the law enforcement agencies, therefore, there is a need for the authorities to do more in protecting Nigerian children.

The environment where children are raised is also something to be considered as children from the less privileged background are exposed more than those from the so called privilege homes because most of them are left to fend for themselves at an early age.

They are sent out to the streets to hawk items to augment the family's finances and some of them easily fall preys to rapists who take advantage of them.

Rape is an offence, and in every criminal case, the evidence is needed with reasonable doubt. We live in a society where getting evidence is not so easy sometimes; victims don’t want to talk for fear of retribution or punishment.

 

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The government needs to take urgent actions to stem the tide of child rape in the bud instead of the lip service they keep paying to the child rights act at all levels.

We need to do a lot more to save our little children from the hands of these predators who are prowling all over the place looking for kids to defile.

The Senate must, as a matter of urgency, pass into law the bill sponsored by Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, seeking enabling laws to tackle the menace of rape, especially on minors which has become such a national disgrace.



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