Lawyers say judicial process hinders justice for rape victims

Legal practitioners on Sunday advanced factors inhibiting the process of obtaining favourable justice by victims of rape in Nigeria, noting that it was complex.

Lawyers, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in separate interviews in Lagos, blamed the complexity on the attitude of victims, as well as the judicial procedure.
Jecinta Ogbeledeto explained that most victims would rather suffer in silence, in order to avoid stigmatisation.
“Because of our kind of environment, rape victims prefer to suffer in silence and bear the emotional trauma alone to avoid being identified or exposed.
“In most cases, their relations would refuse to prosecute the matter because they want to protect their family from the ‘shame’.
“Usually, they withdraw the case from the court – f it has been reported,’’ Ms Ogbeledeto said.
She said that justice could be attained if only the victims were bold to report the cases and allow proper prosecution of such,  adding: “justice comes to those who desire for justice”
Contributing, Kunle Aribisala said that the judicial process for rape cases might be discouraging, because some court would insist on medical tests and other evidences.
“Most times, it is not easy to produce a witness or show evidence of the actual act of rape and these are the basic requirements for investigation and prosecution of rape cases,’’ Mr. Aribisala said.
Another lawyer, Nkechi Amanambu, said that many of the prosecutors lack the expertise to handle sensitive matters like rape.
“Most prosecutors handle rape cases with laxity, they ask ridiculous questions, thereby making the victims shy away from answering questions during trial.
“We are supposed to have well trained and specialised prosecutors because rape cases are very sensitive,’’ Ms. Amanambu said.
She, however, urged the government and human rights groups to organise regular campaigns in collaboration with the media, on the need for rape victims to seek redress.
Ms. Amanambu also advised the government to provide the required materials that would aid the investigation of rape cases– as obtainable in developed countries.
“Rape cases are very sensitive because it is dehumanising and embarrassing.
“It affects the victim and her family or relations and as such, the person responsible should be made to pay for his actions,’’ she said.


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