Barrister Hauwa Ahmed Umar is a private legal practitioner in Nigeria, an active member of Coalition Against Rape and violence (CARAV). She help victims of Rape and Gender Based Violence victims to get their rights back. She also create awareness through sensitization programs.
Barr Hauwa counsel rape victims to get police report immediately and aid them to a government hospital on the spot of the happening of the incident without washing the place until evidence is taken via DNA to have evidence of the blood samples to be tendered as exhibit in court.
She also reinforce doctors to give a report and the victim undergo series of tests like HIV test and also be given medication. She succour in reporting to appropriate authorities and then engage a law firm for the culprit to be arrested and charged to court.
In TALK TO DPH NEWS Barr Hauwa detailed Preventive measures of child rape, litigation, how victims can overcome the traumatic situation and measures the Federal Government can adopt to end child rape in Nigeria.
In a broader term, define child rape and all that it entails.
Child rape refers to unlawful carnal knowledge of a child through luring the child to commit indecent acts which is contrary to the penal Code and criminal code.
What are the causes of child rape in the society?
Causes of child rape in the the society include immorality, negligence (sometimes on the part of the parents), and betrayal or too much trusting of people we live with who sometimes take advantage of that trust and betray because it happens sometimes within the family cycle. And sometimes drug addiction and alcoholism cause it. And also lack of good moral upbringing religious, awareness and lack of fear of God.
As a legal practitioner who fights against Rape and other sort of Sexual Gender Based violence cases how many child rape cases have you recorded in the previous year of 2019
It’s the law enforcement agencies, human rights activists, lawyers, parents, religious clerics, leaders, and the society at large that fight against this because it is our duty and the whole of our responsibility so we have to fight it all. All of us including you and I.
But you in particular, how many cases have you come across?
Many cases. Currently I’m handling at court 31 magistrate court, court road.
Among the ones you handled which of it disgust you most or emotionally touched your heart?
The one I’m currently handling and also a case in Katsina some years back where a father raped his daughter and impregnated her and killed the baby.
Can you shed more light why it emotionally broke you down?
How can a father that supposed to protect his daughter rape her on series of occasions, impregnate her and kill the child? It’s an abomination. This made me burst into tears. Walahi it’s disheartening and disgusting.
Section 238 of the administration of criminal justice law 2019 provides and I quote: Where on a trial for rape, defilement, incest, unnatural or indecent offences against a person, the facts proved in evidence can ground conviction for an indecent assault and not the offence with which the defendant is charged, he may be convicted of the offence of indecent assault and be punished as if he had been convicted on a charge with the offence of indecent assault.
So how did you found out that the father was luring the child?, How old was the child? Has he been convicted of the offence?
My brother was the magistrate that handled that case. Each time the whole house is asleep, the father sneaks to her room and told her if she reports or tells anyone he’ll kill her. She’s 13 years old. He has been convicted of rape, incest and also has been charged with murder of the baby he killed.
Over time within 2019 ending, we have recorded countless cases of child rape in Nigeria, why do you think the act is on the rise in Nigeria?
The act is still on the rise because parents can’t speak out because of fear of stigmatization or scared to report which makes the offender to go unpunished. And sometimes the offenders bribe the parents in rural communities so that they’ll keep quiet which is unfortunate. In cases of domestic violence, parents usually tell their daughters to be patient and save her marriage. How can your daughter keep quiet and die ruthlessly in an unhappy marriage?
How do you think issues of silence can be addressed?
There should be more sensitization programs on radio, television, communities,mosques,islamiyya,house holds, schools, gatherings, seminars, workshop, enlightenment programs etc.
Parents should be given protection under the law and should be able to speak out so that their wards will receive retribution because they have been cheated in the long run. And cases like this are usually done in judges private Chambers in private, away from public eye or scrutiny.
Who should be blamed for the menace of child rape in the society?
It depends. It could be on the parents sometimes where they are negligent. It could be on those who are trusted and where they betrayed. It could be on the society too. Also, porn on social media, indecent websites.
It could also on people who are wayward, sick, indecent and are out there to lynch on innocent preys who are supposed to do better things with their lives but turn out to degrade themselves to the level of animals.
How can pornographic sites and social media be a factor that contributes to child rape?
These websites contribute to menace and decadence to our societies and shouldn’t be watched because they encourage vices and are ungodly.
What are the consequences of child rape?
It inflicts pain on the child. It sometimes lead to mental illness because of the remembrance of the horrific incidence in the child’s brain. It causes poor academic performance and concentration in school. It causes pregnancy in teenagers and spread of sexually transmitted and general diseases like HIV Aids and STDs like gonorrhea and genital watts. It causes injured feelings and wounded pride in children that can be future leaders and assets to the society at large.
Recently in Kano State, a 7-year-old was allegedly raped by a son of a highly reputable man in the state. Because of the high profile of the father, the case is about to be brushed off with the perpetrator going scot-free. How do you think issues like this in Kano state can be addressed? Do you think police are contributing to the high rate of Child Rape and even rape in Nigeria?
Cases like this should be treated with level of strictness regardless of the status of the parents of the offender. Some times police contribute because some of them take bribe.
I mean cases like this should be treated with high level of strictness and perpetrators should be remanded and punished with strictness regardless of their parents rank in the society.
How can a child recover from such traumatic experience?
A child will recover with good counseling, love and encouragement to do well in school. A lot of care, moral support and religious counseling.
Also, that child shouldn’t be left alone. Should be showered with gifts. The child should be told that God will compensate him or her in this world and the hereafter. The child should learn about technology and creative stuff that will make him or her busy and scraps from the past about the incident should not be rewinded to the child.
What measures should Nigerian Government adopt in addressing the menace of Child Rape in the country?
Nigerian government should adopt in protecting the young and the most vulnerable members of the society and by enforcing law and order regardless of rank or status in the society and by punishing whoever violates the law regardless of status or rank with strict vehement measures.
Thank you for Talking to DPH NEWS, ma.