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Published On: Thu, Feb 21st, 2019

Sexual violence: Law should protect activists, not abusers – Lawyer

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By Ochiaka Ugwu

National Coordinator of Proactive Gender Initiative, PGI, a gender-based non-governmental organization in Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, Bar. Esther Uzoma, has called for the protection of activists in the forefront against sexual predators and their sponsors.
Uzoma made the call in the wake of the arrest and detention of Maryam Awaisu in Kaduna State for championing the trending hashtag, #ArewaMeToo on Twitter, which details the experiences of Twitter users with sexual assaults.
“It is a misnomer that those in the vanguard against sexual abuse and working really hard to bring to fore the grave danger young women and girls face are now the ones being hounded by the law.
“The criminal justice system should rather be activated to protect those serving communities and ensuring that abusers –sexual or otherwise- face the full weight of the law,” Uzoma said in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja.
According to the human and gender rights activist, it was a shame that Awaisu could be treated as a common criminal rather than be protected and celebrated for standing up for vulnerable ladies and girls in northern Nigeria.
She stressed that without the backing of law enforcement agencies against incidences of rape, physical abuse and traditional harmful practices, cases of incest and unwanted pregnancies will continue to be on the rise, thereby putting the moral fabric of society in serious danger.
“To tell you how increasingly decadent society has become, the 13-year-old girl who was impregnated by her father just gave birth to a baby girl in Benin City, Edo State. If people like the girl’s father, Friday Moses, are not made examples of, other pedophiles and their likes will be emboldened.
“The law must be seen to work for the vulnerable, the oppressed and marginalized. Anything other than this, it is a Hobbesian state, where only the fittest survive.
“Here in the FCT, Abuja, we have had our own share of such sordid happenings and despite the funding challenge, we remain committed to helping abused women.
“But we know the courts, especially the police can do more and should do more,” Uzoma said.

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