Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has described rape as a pandemic that should be treated like COVID-19.
The Speaker expressed dismay at the staggering statistics on rape. Further, he advised advocates to accommodate men in the struggle against rape.
Speaking when he granted audience to a delegation of the Movement Against Rape and Sexual Violence (MARS-V); led by the wife of Kaduna State governor, Hajiya Aisha Ummi el-Rufai at the National Assembly on Wednesday; Gbajabiamila said the statistics on rape cases in Nigeria “is mind-boggling.”
“Whilst I see so many women here with you, this is a fight not just for women. I can see some few men too, but this is a fight for all. Let a subliminal message be sent that even though over 95 per cent of the victims are women; let it be that it’s we, the men, that are championing your course.
“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’s only a deprived mind that can engage in rape. I consider the issue of rape as a pandemic. In my estimation, it’s a pandemic.
“The issue of rape should be treated the way Corona is treated. How do we treat a pandemic? There has to be a frontal onslaught. But 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.
Equally important, he noted that some of the legislation on rape are obsolete. However, he called on further enlightenment on rape.
“As Muslims, we should educate our people that religion is about perception. But there can only be one truth. It’s all about education and awareness. We’ll continue to push hard. We’ll bring in our scholars so that we all can be enlightened for the sake of humanity.
“Some of our laws on rape are old and need review, like many of our laws. Some of the penalties need to be stiffer. The penalties need to deter, but they can’t deter because they’re weak. We need to look at all these things holistically.”
Earlier, Mrs el-Rufai in her remarks said that statistically; 717 reported rape cases and 7,170 unreported ones occurred in Nigeria within five months.
She said that “our women are raped to death and butchered even in churches and mosques where God is worshipped.”
The wife of the Kaduna state governor charged the Speaker to use his office to tackle the pandemic.