Senate to pass Bill on sexual violence, harassment – Lawmaker

The Bill will make it easier for victims of rape to report the crime.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Women Affairs and Youth Matters, Helen Esuene, on Sunday said that a bill on sexual violence and harassment against women would soon be passed by the Senate.

Mrs. Esuene, representing Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District, stated this at the inauguration of the National Executive Council of Ibom Consolidated Assembly, ICA, in Uyo, Akwa Ibom.

She said the bill sought to address the issue of rape and make it easier for the victims to come out to report.

“There is a bill currently in the Senate on sexual violence against women. It is supposed to address the issue of rape, to make it easier for victims to come out to report,” Mrs. Esuene said.

She said the bill, when passed, would create provision for victims of rape to seek justice and the perpetrators to be properly punished.

Mrs. Esuene described rape against women and girls as “really unfortunate and very sad.”

“The issue of rape on women is very unfortunate because it is one crime that shouldn’t be since there are more women than men. Why should a man rape a woman or a girl that he shouldn’t even go near? The laws are there but for the inhibition people have. Rape victims are already traumatised and often times scared to even go to report at the police stations,” she said.

Mrs. Esuene regretted that the already existing laws had also made it very difficult for a rape victim to report and seek justice.

“The laws as we have them now is not enabling at all because it makes it very difficult for the rape victim to go and report, because the victim will be asked all manner of questions and because of that, they don’t even want to bother. If we don’t report and make the victim to pay according to law, then the crime will continue and increase,’’ she stated.

Mrs. Esuene said that bills in the National Assembly were not delayed, saying that bills involved gradual processes.

“The process of law making is very gradual and is not one stuff thing. One bill has to go through three readings in one House, then it is taken to the other House and it will have to go through three readings. And then you must have a public hearing on it before the two Houses (the Representatives and the Senate) will now have a consensus bill which will again be passed by each of them before it will be assumed to be passed. It is a very long drawn out process. Unfortunately that is why we have bicameral legislature, if it was just one house then the process will be shortened,” she said.

Mrs. Esuene said that democracy had come to stay in Nigeria as the country would soon celebrate 15 years of uninterrupted democracy.

The lawmaker said that the National Assembly was a symbol of democratic governance, and urged Nigerians not to lose faith in the system.

“Democracy is a partnership with the people that is why it will continue to excel and grow in Nigeria. Whatever you see now that may not be to our delight is because the democracy is till new and fresh. Nigeria is celebrating its centenary of 100 years as a nation, it is time that we start doing thing slightly differently, we cannot continue to be a baby at 100 years,” Mrs. Esuene said.

The senator lauded the state governor, Godswill Akpabio, for his achievements in the state.

Mrs. Esuene was honoured as the First Grand Patron of the Ibom Consolidated Assembly.

(NAN)

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