The Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, has called for stiffer penalties for persons convicted of rape, defilement and other forms of child abuse to serve as a deterrent to others.
He also urged the people of the state to stop giving alms to child beggars to discourage the rising trend of child beggars in the state.
Oshiomhole, who spoke when he received members of the state chapter of International Federation of Women Lawyers who paid him a courtesy visit at the Government House, decried the rising cases of the menace in the state and the country which he described as “heinous crimes” that must be prosecuted diligently.
He said, “We have discussed this, time and again at our Executive Council meetings. And at a point, we asked the Attorney-General to review the laws such that the number of years a convict gets will commensurate with the severe nature of rape and defilement.
“We are concerned; we have discussed this and we have a feeling that the number of reported cases are on the increase. We also know that, because of the nature of our environment, there will be several others that may not even be reported at all.
“When you look at the sheer number of rape cases that are recorded, it is clear that across the country both rape and defilement cases are increasing. Therefore, this calls for tougher measures on the part of those strengthening the law and providing for stiffer and harsher punishments than what is currently obtained and to also ensure that the few cases that are reported are properly prosecuted with a view to securing conviction.”
The governor, however, noted that the state had recorded a high level of success in the fight against kidnapping and reaffirmed his commitment to ensuring that kidnappers were completely put out of business in the state.
He also said that the state government was taking steps to discourage street begging.
“I have directed the Commissioner for Women Affair to take firm measures to bring this incidence to an end; Edo cannot be a haven for beggars. We recognise the economic challenges but begging is not and will not be the solution and exposing children to begging is unhealthy.
“I will even appeal to Edo people not to give alms to child beggars because it doesn’t help as women and their fathers push these children to the street. They use them in the manner they do, hoping they will attract pity. The more pity we show to those kids, the more they are subjected to these dehumanising practices,” Oshiomhole added.
Earlier, the Chairperson of FIDA, Mrs. Stella Ojemen, said the organisation would continue to speak and protect women and children who suffer humiliation due the the violence meted out to them by the perpetrators.
Ojemen said, “Our duties are simple – to ensure that women and children who are confronted with all kinds of issues are protected. We are disturbed by the incidence of child labour and trafficking of women in the state and with the plight of widows who are being disturbed by the families of the husband.
“We are also worried about the maltreatment of women and children in crisis zones and we are really disturbed by all of these issues.”