By Solomon Odeniyi
A State of Osun-based Non-Governmental Organisation, Global Girls Network has raised concerns over the rising rate of rape cases involving children in the state.
Ms Itunuoluwa Ibikunle, who is the leader of the group lamented that while the heinous acts are being committed on adults in many parts of the country including Osun, cases of children being raped have however been increasing in the state.
Ibikunle stated that no fewer than five rape cases involving children between ages three and 15 were reported to her organisation during the lockdown.
She said: “For the past weeks, the country has experienced several rape cases of young girls who were not only raped but killed in the process, which seems to become a trend recently.
“Also, here in Osun, the rate of rape cases involving children keeps increasing daily and this sad trend calls for concerns. During the lockdown, not less than five cases have been reported in which their ages range is between 3-15 years. It is quite disheartening.
Ibikunle also accused community, traditional leaders as well as family heads of being responsible for the rising rape cases.
According to her, the leaders prevail on the victims to settle out of court, thereby preventing the offenders from being prosecuted.
She added: “Most victims’ families withdraw from prosecuting the offender, saying that it has been settled by the family head or their community leader by either compensating the family or giving of gifts the victims involved.
“Three out of five rape cases handled have been withdrawn as a result of family head or community leader intervention for amicable settlement.
“With this, they aided the increase of rape cases among women and girls. We have also discovered that we have numerous potential rapists and rape apologists within the communities, having different mindsets and belief that there is nothing like punishment for perpetrators for rape victims.
“The judiciary has failed to give right penalties to perpetrators, I believe if there have been stiffer punishments on previous cases, these would have help giving warnings to others planning to carry out the act.
“If the trend of rape and killing continues throughout the year, definitely we are having a society that is not safe for us, which will lead to increased fear, which might in turn lead to insecurity of females on the streets, because the average girl doesn’t know if she will be next victim.
“We lost victims due to inadequate health care received and it’s quite unfortunate that our law enforcement agency has refused to apprehend perpetrators.”
Ibikunle argued that rape issue should not be narrowed down to a gender as males are also being raped, adding that to have a balanced society, citizens should advocate against rape among both gender.
She called for more actions from the state government to stem the tide of the scourge.