DIRECTOR of Child Welfare Services, Anambra State Ministry of Women Affairs, Children and Social Welfare, Nkechi Anazodo, has expressed worry over the increased cases of rape in the state following the coronavirus lockdown.
Mrs Anazodo, who disclosed that over 80 cases of rape had been recorded in parts of Anambra State since the lockdown of the country occasioned by coronavirus pandemic at Isuaniocha in Awka North Local Government Area of Anambra State, at a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)-supported flag-off of Integrated Child Protection Community Sensitisation Campaign, stated that there were only 32 cases of rape in her ministry before the lockdown, adding that the upsurge had necessitated the need for the 10-day state-wide campaign in the 21 local government areas.
“Sexual violence has become the order of the day especially during this period of lockdown. Even old men now rape children of 12 years and below. The problem we have is that people don’t report. Last week, a case was brought to us of a 70 year- old man that raped a four-year-old child. The case has gone to the police.
“Before the lockdown, we had only 32 cases of rape in the ministry, but the figure recorded within the last few months is over 80. It is unfortunate that some men have left their wives to be having sexual relationship with children less than 5 years. The most worrisome is that some fathers raped their daughters more during the lockdown. In many cases, fathers who rape their daughters threaten to kill them if they report. The problem, therefore, is that many people don’t report these cases because they feel that the victim might be stigmatised. That is why we are going round the 21 local government areas of the state to create awareness on this problem.”
She said the state government had created ‘Task Sexual Assault Centre’ at Engwu-Ukwu General Hospital purposely for treating rape victims, adding that once any rape victim was brought to the centre, tests would be conducted on her because of the possibility that the child might have been infected with sexually transmitted diseases, STD.
Anazodo advised that victims should be taken to this referral hospital within two hours of the rape for effective result, adding that treatment and counselling of the victims are free with their identities well protected.
“Once we get any case of rape, we use the police to arrest the rapist and do everything within the law to prosecute the person”.
She urged parents, presidents general of town unions, the clergy, youth organisations, and non governmental organizations (NGOs) to assist in educating the people on the best ways to discourage rape.
She further explained that the Anambra State Child’s Right Implementation Committee has been properly positioned to handle, among other issues, child abuse of any form and that the child protection network in the ministry also ensures that if there was issue of torture of any child, they take it up and ensure that such a person is prosecuted according to law.
“The children have a right to enjoy their lives and that is why we don’t joke with children’s welfare in this state,” she said.
Participants in the programme include the National Population Commission and the National Orientation Agency (NOA), presidents of the 181 town unions, the churches, traditional institution and the women groups.