Chiemeka ADINDU, Calabar
Chairperson, International Federation of Women Lawyers, FIDA, Cross River state branch, Ann Awah has said there is an alarming increase in rape cases in the state. She said the state has recorded over 15 convictions for rape in the past three months.
The female lawyer who believes that it would be out of place to say that gender based violence will completely be eradicated called on the public to assist them in dealing with the offenders by speaking out and providing necessary information to them when such occurs in their neighbourhoods. She maintained that once society learns how to expose and shame the offenders instead of blaming the survivors that it would serve as a deterrent to others.
Awah charged the public to maximize the available opportunities FIDA has for them and report every case, as the body would never compromise her standards when it comes to gender based violence.
She said: “People should speak out when they see something, they should always speak out and the perpetrator should be the one to be exposed and the one to be shamed. The survivor has done nothing wrong, the survivor has no cause for it, they should stop blaming and shaming the survivor.
“ If we can completely erase this violence in society it will be for good but, if I say that it will be requesting for utopian society and we don’t have it anywhere.
“People are becoming emboldened enough to talk about it, people are no longer shameful to say that my child has been raped, I have been raped; it is no more shame because it is no fault of yours, people are more aware, people are beginning to report these cases.
“We have plenty rape cases going on now. We have been having convictions day by day, I wouldn’t have the figure off hand but I know that in the past two or three months, we’ve had more than fifteen convictions in Cross River alone.
“Once FIDA comes into the matter, your own don spoil because they don’t compromise. We don’t accept, you’re saying you’re settling, settling for what? What are you settling? That child is traumatized all her life. Let me not say her alone because boys these days are also defiled and raped, so he or she is traumatized for life and you’re settling”.
The FIDA chairperson who disclosed this during a four day training in managing Gender Based Violence in Emergencies, GBViE organized by UNFPA further highlighted that Gender Based Violence is a crime against the state. She said the crime is there with us and that it is going to be with us for a very long time, as long as human co-exist with one another.