By Bankole Shakirudeen Adeshina
THE dangerous phenomenal of rape, domestic violence, and culture of silence built around them were grimly painted by Ezichi Gift, an eight year old girl, who expressed fear over her safety because of the growing incidents.
In a rare show of bravery, Ezichi, a Nursery Two pupil, led dozens of adult human rights volunteers, in a protest organized by the Ambassadors of Peace and Enlightenment Foundation (APEF) to conscientize parents in Ijegun, a suburb of Lagos State, against the nefarious activities of pedophiles and rapists and how to protect themselves and their children.
The protesters, who displayed placards, with different prescriptions, took off from Ijegun Roundabout, navigating the entire markets, surrounding streets, with a stopover at the Isheri Osun Police Station.
The stopover at the police station was said to further engage the law enforcement officers on the need to assist in preventing rapist from escaping justice.
“I am afraid for my life,” the young human rights advocate told this reporter at the rally, ostensibly expressing concerns of millions of other minors, who are being subjected to or witnessing the traumatic experience.
“I joined this campaign because I want to help stop rape at all cost,” she added, reiterating the theme of the rally, which had on attendance, dozens of adult “Peace Ambassadors,” and women and children advocates, carrying placards, with different inscriptions.
Articulate and soft-spoken Ezichi recalled how some of her friends at school related to her their heartbreaking experiences in the hands of some sexual abusers, sending chills down the spine of parents.
“I have heard of rape cases severally. Some of my friends at school have told me about it. They were abused. And they are afraid to tell their parents…I am very afraid for my life and safety.. ,” she lamented, in a glimpse into the mind of the endangered minors in the country.
As the protest progressed, APEF founder, Prince Saviour Iche, and it’s Legal Officer, Miss Nnedinife Ojugbeli, took turn to sensitize the growing audience on the challenge cases of rape, and best preventive measures against it.
Iche warned parents that under no circumstance should they entrust the care of their wards in anyone other than themselves, irrespective of religious, cultural, or biological affinity.
According to him, “as a responsible parent, it is your statutory duty to raise your children with maximum care,” Iche, Founder of APEF, stressed to the nodding crowd, explaining that, “this care is inclusive of providing safety and security against sexual assaults from pedophiles and rapists who are currently on the loose across the country.”
While offering his NGO’s support in helping to diligently prosecute any reported rape or attempted rape cases, the human right volunteer warned that parents and relatives would be treated as accomplices should they be found to be helping in anyways to subvert the process of justice.
According to him, “the challenge of stigma is one herculean challenge in our society today. But that clearly comes out of ignorance, for the culture of silence around rape is more destructive than being courageous enough to voice out. It is when we speak out that our ordeal would be known and attended.
“Hence, I would encourage you all to come forward, report any of these cases to us. Whether it happens to you directly or you heard it happening in the neighborhood, call our attention to it. We are ready to help you get justice.
“However, be warned that you can be treated as a criminal yourself, if it is found that you are helping the rapist to escape justice. Most parents, religious and community leaders are found to be aiding and abetting rape by their pleading on the victim to drop the pursuit of justice. This is a big crime on it own. Do not be found involved in it,” he warned.
In her admonition, Ojugbeli, pleaded with rape or domestic violence victims to come out, saying help is waiting for those willing to get it.
She however warned the sexual perverts to desist or face the wrath of the law, saying no stone would be left unturned by her agency in the quest to get justice for the victims of rape, going forward..
According to her, “all of you involved in the act of raping women should desist from it. Leave our women alone. Leave our wives alone. Leave our daughters alone. Enough is enough.
“If I say I no won do, I no won do. If she says she no won do, e mean sey, she no won do. Don’t get it twisted. Even if say I don gree and we con start, and I con tire, I con sey stop, leave me alone, leave me. Because if you continue, nah rape case be that. sex is very cheap.
“If you need it, you can go buy it anywhere. But you must ask for consent. There are people who are willing to give you sex for free. You don’t need to go take advantage of the underage or people who can not speak out because you think you have the power to do so.
“For the victim, if you know you have suffered for any act of domestic violence or sexual assult of sort, feel free and come out, help is waiting for you.”