Anambra State Director of National Orientation Agency (NOA), Barrister Charles Nwoji, has called for positive attitudinal change among the populace as a sure way to reduce the incidence of rape and the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria.
Barr Nwoji was speaking at a Community Sensitization programme on “Building A People of Peace” with the theme, Working Together To fight COVID-19, held at Eze Market Square, Owerre –Ezukala in Orumba South Council Area of the State.
The incidence of rape in Anambra State has since the outbreak of the coronavirus and the subsequent lockdown, increased sporadically, with over 80 cases reported since the lockdown according to statistics from the state Ministry of Women Affairs, Children and Social Welfare.
The statistics also show that under-aged girls were mostly victims.
According to the Anambra NOA Director, rape is evil before God and man and there should be no hiding place for rapists in Anambra State.
He regretted that a major factor driving the surge in rape incidents is the fear of stigmatization or victimization which has made many rape victims and their families not to report such cases to the appropriate authorities.
“It is important that our people change the attitude of always being afraid to report rape cases to the appropriate authorities for immediate action against rapists. As it is now, there are many outlets through which victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence can seek justice but they can only be accessed when the victims speak out. So, as a society, we must begin to change our mentality towards this evil to be able to check its spate,” he said.
Barr Nwoji expressed worry that only about nineteen states of the Federation have so far domesticated the Violence Against Persons Prohibition, (VAPP) Act, advising the people to always pursue their rights without fear of molestation in the law court, using the VAPP act and other instruments of law.
On the COVID-19 challenge ravaging parts of the world, the Anambra NOA Boss advised that as schools resume, schools should take special care to protect the children by observing all the COVID-19 protocols as stipulated by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, (WHO).
“What we need is a little adjustment to adapt to the new normal. Change is the only thing constant and if we must survive this very deadly virus, we must adjust. In terms of hygiene, in terms of adhering to the social distancing protocols and avoiding crowded places among others. It is just a matter of attitudinal change, change from any disposition that exposes us to contracting the dreaded virus,” he said.
On his part, the Deputy Director Programmes, Anambra NOA, Sir Joseph Uchendu, told traders at the Owerre -Ezukala Eke Market to fully take responsibility of their safety by observing all the laid down protocols and quit blaming government and others for what they can do for themselves.
In their separate speeches, the NOA Chief Orientation and Mobilization Officer in Orumba South Local Government Area, Mr. Cyril Ezezue and his Aguata Local Government counterpart, Mrs. Ifeoma Umeh, maintained that a lot is expected of the mothers to ensure that they prepare their children and wards adequately as they return to school.
In a vote of thanks, the President-General of Owerre -Ezukala Town Union, Sir. Anayo Emejue, thanked NOA for the program, adding that they were delighted with the outcome of the event as NOA has done a thorough job by being able to educate them on COVID -19 and how to avoid its infection as well as the issue of Violence Against Persons such as rape and its attendant penalties as prescribed by Government.