The Edo State Government has called for the collaboration of all stakeholders in bringing an end to the rising incidences of rape, child abuse and all other forms of gender-based violence in the state.
The Commissioner for Social Development and Gender Issues, Hon. Maria Edeko, made the call during a sensitisation campaign and solidarity walk against Gender Based Violence (GBV) in various parts of Benin City, the Edo State capital.
The Commissioner, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Pharmacist Joy Ebhodaghe, expressed dismay over the increasing cases of rape in the state, noting that the ministry will implement the extant laws to ensure stiffer penalties to curb the ugly trend.
She reassured that the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration will continue to step up efforts at ensuring that Edo State remains uninhabitable for rapists and other perpetrators of criminal activities.
The rally organised by the Ministry in collaboration with Global Women for Quality and Sustainable Development (GWSD) steered protesters to the State Secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalist (NUJ) and the Edo State House of Assembly, calling for more stringent laws to protect the people against rape as well as other forms of gender-based violence.
The aggrieved protesters decried the incessant cases of rape across the country, condemning in strong terms the rape and gruesome murder of Uwaila Vera Omozuwa, a 22-year-old Microbiology student of the University of Benin (UNIBEN).
The Executive Director, GWSD, Mariam Kadiri Ezolome, said gender-based violence is a crime against humanity that should be handled with all seriousness.
She however advocated for a revision of existing laws to accommodate more severe forms of punishments for sex offenders.
Addressing the group at the State House of Assembly, Speaker, Rt. Hon. Frank Okoye, said the House was prepared more than ever before to ensure appropriate legislation to check the tide but called for increased support from stakeholders.
In his remark, the state chairman of NUJ, Comrade Roland Osakue, reaffirmed the willingness of the union to assist in bringing the situation under control, adding, “No society deserves rapists because they are worse than criminals.”
The awareness campaign featured distribution of fliers and stickers to the public, urging them to volunteer intelligence to the Ministry of Social Development and Gender Issues or call for confidential counselling via: 07025001131 or 07025001130.