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Rights Commission seeks partnership campaign with CAN on rape, gender-based violence

by Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna

National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, has appealed to Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, to join the commission in the campaign against rape, sexual and gender-based violence against women and the girl-child. 

The Commission’s Chief Legal Officer, Ina Audu, in company of other officers of commission disclosed this during a visit to CAN chairman, Rev. John Joseph Hayab-led exco on Friday in Kaduna. 

Mrs. Audu said they were on five days’ advocacy visits and street walk on campaign against rape, sexual and gender-based violence that has escalated during the Covid-19 lockdown.

She said even though the Commission had been on the job of rape and sexual abuse, it decided to embark on advocacy and street walk to many places, including CAN, because of the increase in awareness by the people to tell them to join the fight.

According to Mrs. Audu, even though many had been in the fight against the menace, most especially the faith-based organizations like Church Pastors and Reverend Fathers because of their outreach to people, there was need to inform them to intensify the campaign.

She also reiterated that they want the pastors, imams and other clergymen to intensify the teachings against rape and other sexual and gender-based violence in their churches and mosques and let the people know that it’s wrong and criminal to rape women and girl-child and even boys.

Responding in a resounding acknowledgement, the Kaduna CAN chairman, Rev. Hayab, said the religious leaders have a big role to play and need to keep educating their members that rape and other gender violence, in whatever guise, is criminal and evil, whether to a woman, girl-child and even to boys.

He said the visit from NHRC came at a time all Nigerians should wake up and join and condemn rape and other gender violence and discrimination in all its entirety, and those perpetrating the acts be made to face the full wrath of the law. 

Rev. Hayab said “First thing to do to get the fight to work is to strengthen the security and medical system and make them such places that people with cases of rape and gender-based violence can run to when they have such urgent needs.”

He said a situation where the police would trivialize and shame a girl, who reports such cases, and make her run away out of frustration, rather than treating it on point of law, raised a big question that needs to be addressed; or a rape case is made to be dragged on, in police or law court for too long is discouraging.”

Hayab expressed dismay that, “It’s possible that these rape issues have been happening to our children without people even knowing until now when people are forced to stay at home due to Covid-19; or it’s been wrongly handled by the law enforcement agencies.”

Rev. Hayab pivoted on the Holy Scriptures, saying, “The Bible said, ‘When a son of David wanted to rape her sister, the lady openly frowned at it and said, “If you actually love my body, seek permission from my father,’ ” which means, it was evil, and Bible condemns it.”

The CAN chairman further lamented that “The hurdle and process of reporting rape incident by ladies is difficult. In some cases, evidences gathered by security from hospitals and police are tempered with and discourage the girls. There is the need, therefore, to talk to the securities,” he stressed.

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