Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs. Pauline Tallen, recently, said that about 3,600 rape cases were recorded across the 36 states of the federation during the COVID- 19 lockdown.
Tallen stated this when she paid a courtesy visit on the Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, in his National Assembly office, Abuja. She commended Omo- Agege for sponsoring the bill on sexual harassment, saying that by this feat, the lawmakers had written their names in gold.
The minister condemned the upsurge in rape cases nationwide, stating that she received reports from Commissioners for Women Affairs across the 36 states of the Federation, which revealed that during the COVID-19 induced lockdown, each state recorded not less than 100 cases of rape.
She also applauded the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) for declaring a state of emergency on sexual and gender-based violence calling for more legislation to protect the girl-child and women. The development is coming on the heels of commendation by the United Nations Women (UN Women) on the approval of the bill by the Senate.
In a letter dated July 7, 2020, signed by Comfort Lamptey, UN Women Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS and addressed to the Deputy President of the Senate, she noted that “UN Women stands ready to support federal and state efforts to implement this important legislation in the period ahead, working closely with women’s constituencies, students, educational institutions and other relevant stakeholders.”
Meanwhile, Omo-Agege has explained that the Senate passed the Sexual Harassment Bill in furtherance of its Legislative Agenda, which sought the protection of women’s rights. He noted that when signed into law, it would not only send a strong signal to those who might want to abuse women but ensure that students were not at the mercy of ‘sexual predators’.
The Bill to Prevent, Prohibit and Redress Sexual Harassment of Students in Tertiary Educational Institutions, 2020, which was passed by the Senate at its sitting on July 7, prohibits sexual harassment of students in tertiary institutions and prescribes jail term ranging from two to 14 years for various degrees of offences.