Rape Cases More Devastating Than Covid 19 – Founder Arridah Relief Foundation
President and Founder of Arridah Relief Foundation, Hajiya Rabi Salisu Ibrahim, an NGO that carters for the needs of the less privileged especially gender based violence, child molestation and domestic violence. In this interview with Journalists Against Rape (JAR) bared her mind on salient issues sorrounding rape cases and efforts of her organization.
You have been involved in fight against rape and child abuses, how has it been?
The rape cases are very much in Kaduna state. From January 2015- 2020 up to this July, we have had over 784 rape cases in Kaduna and environs that our NGO has followed up and not to talk of other rape cases with other NGOs which we partner with. Recently during this period of lockdown, rape cases have increased, A lot of child molestation and sodomy , we have had over 50 cases in 4 months, before the lockdown, it was normally 2,3,4 cases monthly but now is another thing, now we get 2, 3,4 on daily basis in Kaduna and its environs, the recent one that has gone viral was the one of sodomy , one Alamin 12 year old boy that have been raped and abused by 4 men and unfortunately the 3 of them have been released by the police, only one remaining in police custody , we had another one of Hafizah 10 year old girl raped by 5 people , 70 year old man was among people who raped her who happened to her Aunt husband, perpetrators are always close people, relations, associates, neigbours etc. people that you know, people outside community cannot just enter your house to rape, the rapist are the people that we know, people you trust are the one who come close to your children and perpetrate this evil deeds , I am talking about rape of minors which have become very viral, before now we talk of rape of adult and teenagers but now is rape of minor children below the age of 10. We have another rape case that is still in police custody and we have not even gone to Criminal Investigation Department (CID), the rapist a 19 years old raped children (girls) whose ages are 2, 3 and 5 old in one day, he is still in police custody under investigation, he has made a confessionary statement that he has been raped up to 10 times, he was arrested for the first time and they bailed him after 2 weeks he raped 3 other people again and he was bailed by his mother, police did not even charge him to court. We also have another problem of under age children raping minors and the prison will not accept them , because we don’t have juvenile prison for them, they will still come back and rape again because prison doesn’t accept any child that is under 18 years, when people see that you rape and you are back to the society and they keep raping even if they take them back to prison they will be released.
What are some of the challenges you face in course of seeking Justice for the victims?
The challenges are much I can only mention few, the delay in prosecution is our major challenge because this cases take longer period before it will come to conclusion. We stay long in magistrate court just for cognisance waiting for advice from the Ministry of Justice, that is the Department of Publib Proseciton (DPP), it is the department that will give advice to High Court, now we are in Magistrate Court and some cases are there for 9, 10 years without seeing the light of High Court. Sometimes the suspect will admit the crime sometimes when you go to court the suspect will disagree after he has agreed from the police, so our challenge is that any case that has been prolonged without judgment in the Court of law it is assumed false investigation.
The prison in Kaduna state is made for just 700 people but the prisoners there are over 7000 , so they need to decongest prison for them to have a healthy environment for the suspect, some people who have congest the prison are those people who have stayed long without trial , sometimes raped victims do get asylum sometimes, they freed them from prison because they have stayed long without prosecution and the same people will come back to the society and keep perpetrating the evil. We have a case in Abakpa, he raped a daughter of 9 years when they took him to prison he came back , he raped the mother and 2 year old girl and now as I speak to you he is out again. The suspect get out and sees us as enemies, so we are endangering our lives but we take it to be a challenge on us, death and life is from God. Sometimes the victims get tired of following up those cases and along the line some parents do collect money from the suspect and they will tell us that they are no longer interested in the case, they will tell you that they are tired of going to police and court, some will not collect money but out of frustration they will tell you Hajia we are tired because they will keep them in the state CID from morning till evening and they will ask them to come back next time without achieving anything, by doing this they will leave us without evidence and by then they will free those suspect.
What is your relationship with the police in all of your efforts?
Police, we have to work with them because they are the one doing the arrest, anytime we have case we have to report to police or civil defense but most of the time police do kill our cases and we are not happy about that , sometimes they do kill our cases in police stations, they will not even take the case to court, police are just there to investigate and not to try case, sometimes if you go there they will tell you that they tried and tried that the case is not worth taking to court, it is only the court that has the autonomy to release a suspect or the Attorney General (AG) of a state not the police.
Issues of stigmatization is one reason victims or their parents don’t want to speak out, what do you think?
Before we have problem of stigmatization but now with advocacy and enlightenment program, people now know their rights, they come out to report cases of their children and that is why we close the identity of the victims, the fear of stigmatization have reduced , now parents come out to report, before it is people around the vicinity of the act that comes to report, stigmatization is there but it has reduced, 60% of the cases are not reported by the victims, 40% are the one reported, we have however achieved because before it is only 10% that report their cases, more people come out now to say my child have been raped, even women come out to say I my self have been raped, before it is not like that especially in the northern part of the country.
Cases of female assaulting a male child is also been witnessed, so you such cases in your NGO?
We have a case of female child assaulting a male child, whenever she is bathing him, she will be playing with his penis and the boy like her to be sucking his penis for him, that case we took it to police stations but the law kept silence, it is a mild case , because there is no punishment for a female that rape Minor, it is only a woman that man can rape because of construction of private part of a woman can’t put something in a man is only in woman, you can rape with any instrument when it comes to a woman like hand, spoon etc but a man he has to get erection but if he is under pressure he cannot even get erection. Up till now the law had not proven for a woman to be raping a man.
What do you want government to do in all of this challenges viz -a-viz your efforts?
What we want is for government to assist, we need a family court in Kaduna. Family court is in Oyo, Lagos, when we have family court there will be accelerated judgment, within 4,5 months they will be judging this people, but when we don’t have family court, they will be waiting in Magistrate Court, High Court waiting for advice thereby taking so many years prosecuting one case.
Some persons have advocated various punishment including castration, hanging and life in prison for rape victims, what will be your own suggestion as punishment?
We have also called for castration in 2015 and 2016 for rape victims, my organization is among the first that gone through Child Right Act in Kaduna state which has now been domesticated into law, we went through the first, second and third hearing in Kaduna state House of Assembly, it has not a law in Kaduna State that any body that rapes is life imprisonment, the implementation is what we want, we want rapist to be brought to book, let the media witness how rapist are been executed, it will serve as a deterrent to others, people will be scared of raping and people that are on it will stop and we will have sanity in our society, we are in support of castration, if they castrate them let them leave them and go back to the society. If they bring castration and implement it in Kaduna, it will be in our favour. Castration is the best key to all this rape problem.
What will be your call to the police, government, rape victims and rapists themselves?
Our call to police is to be taking this cases very serious and to be bringing duplicate to ministry of justice on time. Police must also ensure that victims of rape cases get Justice. This is because, some rape cases most often than not are swept under the carpet. The Government on their part should also implement the law because they are the custodian of the law, they have good laws but implementation is part of our problem. Ministry of Justice should be bringing advice on time before the execution of family court that we are calling on. Government should also take care of all the cases, they should constitute a special advisory committee on rape just as they did on covid-19, because to us, rape is more than covid-19. Then a state of emergency on rape should be declared. There are good laws which is lacking implementation and having a law without implementation is like having a good house with door and padlock. For rape victims, they should always speak out while the rapists should turn a new leaf and do something better with their lives.