Women Must Rise Against Rape —- Ibezim

Raymond Ozoji, Awka

Provincial President, Mothers’ Union, Women’s Guild and Girl’s Guild, Province of the Niger and Diocese of Awka, Anglican Communion, Mrs Martha Chioma Ibezim, has lamented the increasing sexual abuse of girls and women in the society, saying women must rise and stand against rape in the society.

She also commended the governors of Nigeria’s 36 states for declaring a state of emergency on rape in Nigeria, and called for concerted action against rape by all and sundry.

Mrs Ibezim insisted that it’s time for the church, families and the society to raise stronger voices against forceful sexual relationships that affect our women especially the young females.

Delivering her Presidential address with the theme ‘Be still and Know that I am God, Psalm 46: 10a’, to mark the 34th Awka Diocesan Women’s Conference (ADWOC) 2020 at All Saints’ Church Ukpo, Dunukofia local government area, Anambra state, Mrs Ibezim appealed that baseless men who rape at will must be stopped.

Mrs Ibezim who is the wife of the Archbishop Ecclesiastical Province of the Niger and Bishop, Diocese of Awka, Most Reverend Alexander Chibuzo Ibezim, PhD but fondly known as Nneoma, Mama Awka and Mama Province, insisted that it’s time for every woman to watch out to forestall such evil of rape aside from prayers against rape.

She lamented the current trend of using dangerous drugs by men to cause their victims to lose their memory as worrisome. She noted that the number of rapes in Nigeria during the COVID-19 pandemic has multiplied beyond 300% with higher rate of reporting and opening up by victims. She notes further that ‘in Africa, rape has been declared a “second pandemic” of gender-based violence with multiple cases of rape and murders of victims all designed to silence them.

She stated: ‘’It is time for the church, families and the society to raise stronger voices against forceful sexual relationships that affect our women especially the young females. We must stop those baseless men. They overpower girls and women, drug their victims, and sexually abuse them. The current trend of using dangerous drugs to cause victims to lose their memory and prevent immediate and perpetual conception of victims and the gruesome murdering of victims is becoming more alarming. Sisters, let us watch and pray against these evil. We must stand against rape now. We are grateful that the governors of Nigeria’s 36 states declared a state of emergency on rape in Nigeria.

“Rape has become a dominant intermittent issue of the season as cases of godless forceful sexual abuse, drugging and murder have remained major headlines in this Coronavirus induced lockdown. Nigeria has a long history of an alarming prevalence of sexual violence and impunity for rapists. Unfortunately, since the COVID-19 lockdown, the number of rapes has multiplied beyond 300% with higher rate of reporting and opening up by victims. In Africa, rape has been declared a ‘second pandemic’ of gender-based violence with multiple cases of rape and murders of victims all designed to silence them. There is a high rise of rape cases everywhere now. You must have to be cautions and disciplined in the friends you keep, the places you go and most importantly the clothes you wear. The case of the 22-year-old university student Uwavera Omozuwa who was raped and killed caused a widespread outrage in Nigeria…

‘’The cry of Tamar over her rape by his half-brother Ammon, triggered Absalom to kill Amnon and engineered rebellion against his father King David. Rape and other sexual violence against women must stop. Let the families, church and the government stand up against rape. The Awka Diocesan Women Ministry shall continue to intercede for the nation and state, our governor and his wife for divine direction in their administration, fairness and equity. It is well with Nigeria and Anambra State’’.

On herdsmen attack, Mrs Ibezim said: “We congratulate our dear governor, His Excellency, Chief Willie Maduaburochukwu Obiano, Akpokue Dike, and His wife Chief Dr. Ebelechukwu Obiano (Osodieme) for their pedigree in the security and workers welfare of the state. Anambra State had remained relevant in the affairs of the nation as a result of its security gains and calmness promoted by the present administration led by His Excellency Chief Willie Obiano. But, the news of Fulani herdsmen attacks on farms in our villages and towns in our state creates room for worries and security concerns. There is a need for the government to do more to address the rising tension in villages that are afraid of the attacks by suspected herdsmen. We encourage our government to do more.”

Speaking on the influx of beggars from North to the South East, the Mothers’ Union President Province of the Niger said further: ‘’There is a strong move and determination by Northern Governors in Kano, Kaduna, Kogi and others to eradicate the Almajiri system of child-begging and street begging. They have developed policies against Almajiri system which they are executing with zeal. Ironically, as those beggars are leaving the streets in the North states, we see that they are multiplying in Anambra State. The governor’s lodge in Amawbia, the Hausa quarters in Amawbia, Amansea to Ugwuoba, Enugu-Onitsha Expressway and other strategic locations in the state are being occupied by these groups of people. The unguided influx of beggars from the Northern Nigeria exposes our State to high security risk. There is need for the government to develop policies to address the influx of Almajiri in the South-East of Nigeria. Repatriation of beggars is ongoing in the North. Anambra and other Governors in South-East and South-South must borrow leave from their counterpart in Kogi, Kaduna and Kano State’’.

Mrs Ibezim spoke on the increase of cult activities in the state thus: ‘’We wish to draw the attention of the State Government to the ugly issues of cult activities characterized by killings and counter-killings. The reported cases of gangsters and destruction of lives and properties in Anambra State is becoming alarming. There has been rapid rise in cult related activities especially around the State Capital. The Security Forces are trying but there is need to clamp down on these societal ills before they crash our security system. Thank God that Zone 13 Police Command is with us now. We plead for perfect collaboration among all the security and the governmental agencies to combat this menace. As we appreciate the efforts of the security personnel in combating crime, the high rate of youths and children involvement should be strongly guarded and culprits fully prosecuted. Attacks and reprisals should be averted through security reports and intelligence. We need more proactive measures’’.

On coronavirus pandemic, Mrs Ibezim said: ‘’It is most unfortunate that the emergence  of the deadly coronavirus pandemic exposed the ugly weaknesses in our governance system. As the National and States map health budgets annually, it is disheartening to note that in almost all the states, the facilities in our Government hospitals are alarming, poor and below average. Nigeria is among the top ranking nations in abroad medical treatments with our patients flying to India, America and United Kingdom and other foreign countries. We could not provide for the basic health needs of our people. We thank God that everybody faced the reality of the gap in our health sector which is leading to more cases of mortality.”

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