A bill seeking to end stigmatisation of victims of rape passed second reading in Senate on Wednesday.
The legislation is evolved to provide for prosecution and punishment of any person or group of persons who stigmatize victims of rape.
The bill seeks to uphold and protect the Fundamental Right to Dignity and Freedom of Association as provided by the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
Titled Rape and Insurgency Victims Stigmatization (Prohibition) Bill 2019, it is being sponsored by Senator Mohammed Sani Musa (Niger East).
Leading the debate, Senator Musa said if passed into law, the bill would among other things, encourage victims of rape to testify in court.
The bill which contains 11 (Eleven) Clauses, according to the lawmaker, would also ensure the re-integration of victims of insurgency into the community of their choice.
“Presently, rape is now a common phenomenon and occurs worldwide. In fact, available data suggest that in some countries one in five women reports sexual violence or being raped by an intimate partner and up to a third of girls report forced sexual initiation. This also cuts across diverse age range of victims ranging from young toddlers and children to even older victims aged 70 years old, with over seventy percent of the victims under 19.
“The bill is to provide for the legal and institutional framework for the protocol for re-integration of victims of rape and insurgency in Nigeria. If this bill is passed into law, it would certainly provide a new lease of life for victims of rape and insurgency in the country”, Musa said.
The lawmaker who bemoaned the trauma which most victims of rape suffer and are exposed to in the country, blamed the development on what he described as the “ineptitude” of the Nigerian justice system.
“The justice system in Nigeria is incredibly inept and for rape cases, this is even more traumatic. A rape victim goes to the police to report and the policeman or woman tells the victim to go and sort it out at home as it is a domestic case. And the consequences of such an act are that the victim is left at the mercy of the society without any protection.
“This sort of stigma has prevented many survivors from reporting abuse and seeking justice. Victims of insurgency and other violent acts needs this kind of laws that will not only promote gender equality, the empowerment of women and girls as fundamental to all efforts to prevent and address sexual violence, but also progressively uplift such victims”, Musa said.
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, after consideration of the bill referred it to the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters for further legislative action.
The Committee, chaired by Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele (APC – Ekiti Central) is expected to submit its report back to the Senate within four weeks.