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NAPTIP seeks review of rape law to protect victims

Dame Julie Okah-Donli, Director-General, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).

The review of the law that guides rape cases in Nigeria to swing it in favour of victims would stem the tide of rising cases of pedophile and rape in the country.  
 
The Director, Public Enlightenment of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Arinze Orakwe, who stated this in an exclusive interview with The Guardian in Abuja, yesterday, explained that the burden of prove that is placed on victims is aiding rapists and assaulters to go unpunished. 
 
His words: “NAPTIP will fully support the review of the rape law. While I am not speaking on behalf of NAPTIP, I as an individual and operator support the review of the law. The law as presently crafted is a burden on victims. Indeed, the law seeks to dampen the morale of families of victims to press charges because it is almost impossible to prove rape cases successfully in our court of law because of the evidence that is required.”
 
He submitted that the evidence that is required by the law to prosecute rape cases is a burden on the victim, insisting that it calls for a review.

Orakwe also said rape victims reserve the right to disclose their experiences anytime they wish, saying there is no national template on the timeframe a rape victim should disclose her harrowing experience.

He also insisted that the agency has not discovered the factors influencing the rising cases of paedophilic tendencies, saying: “I cannot find the reasons for the rising cases of a pedophile in the country. I say this because the practice is not like food and clothing. It is difficult to find an explanation for it if not for the vile nature of man. Nobody can say that children dress sexually provocative. I think immortality is on the increase in our society.”

Orakwe added: “There is also the failure of religious institutions to increase sermons on morality and sinfulness of behavioural patterns that are anti-societal norms. All we see nowadays is about prosperity, healings and miracles. We hear less about heavenly things and the need to be righteous while on earth,” he stated. 

He noted that NAPTIP would continue to appeal to parents to know they are the first responders by way of protecting their children. 
 
“Parents must mind who they leave their children because the family knows pedophiles. Children normally submit their basic security instincts to uncles, pastors, neighbours or aunties. That is why we emphasise to parents that they must mount the first roadblock, mount the first resistance against these acts,” he said.
 
He stressed that while NAPTIP is stepping up prosecution of offenders, state governments should not only adopt the Child Right Act but also the Violence Against Persons Act. 
 
He stated: “The Violence Against Persons Act is limited to Abuja and some states such as Lagos that is taking practical steps in that regard. The states should also go-ahead to set up structures to aid the enforcement of the Act in a manner that will be productive in mitigating rape and other violence against human persons.”
 
Orakwe also gave tacit support to the calls by the Senate for a death sentence for rapists, saying, “it is not our business to support. We are a law enforcement agency. In the process of lawmaking especially during the public hearing, other agencies of government would get involved and will make their submissions as well. Whatsoever becomes the resolution of such a process will be what should be done. Why we like what the National Assembly is saying is that it shows that rape and other assaults on persons are considered very important by such a critical arm of government. That action will engender reactions from all the stakeholders and motivate them into taking action that would contribute to mitigating the practice.”

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