Salama Sexual Assault Referral Centre in Gambo Sawaba General Hospital, Zaria in Kaduna State, recorded 652 rape cases where children below 17 years were the victims between February 2019 and August 2021.
Hajiya Amina Ladan, the head of the centre, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Zaria.
According to Ladan, the Centre which was established on Feb. 7, 2019 recorded 135 cases in 2019; 346 cases in 2020 and 171 cases between January and August this year.
She said that most of the cases were rapes and sodomy against children below 17 years and that the cases were reported to the centre by either the parents, security personnel or in some instances, by the traditional leaders.
“Though, the centre covered the eight local governments of Kaduna North Senatorial District, about 70 per cent of the cases were from Zaria Local Government while few cases were from the other local governments,’’ Ladan said.
Ladan also said that the centre recorded few cases of sodomy involving adults who had mental health challenges.
She said that the offenders were being prosecuted in courts of law.
The coordinator, however, said that some parents of the victims of rape did not want the cases to be prosecuted; and they gave the centre wrong phone numbers and fake addresses to avoid a follow up.
“There was a mother whose one-year-and-six-months’ old first daughter was raped by her uncle; when the mother took the little baby to her parent for weaning.
“After the centre confirmed the rape, the father and mother of the victim refused to give support on how to arrest the suspect on the premises that their tradition encourages mothers to take their children out for weaning.
“Eventually, the case had to die, this is how frustrating it can be sometimes,’’ she said.
She added that the centre was also handling a case of a father whose male child was abused (sodomy) and the mother insisted that the victim must be punished according to the law.
Ladan said that the father (of the victim) went to the suspect and collected money from him and insisted that the mother also should collect money from the suspect to sweep the matter under the carpet.
“Because the mother refused to collect the money, her husband stopped taking care of her, the other children and threatened to divorce her,” she said.
Ladan, therefore, advised parents to watch the movements of their children carefully and appealed to the government and other key stakeholders to intensify efforts toward taming the challenge.
NAN reports that the centre was established to provide psycho-social counselling, medical treatment and optional legal services to victims of abuse.
Gov. Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State disturbed by the rising cases of abuse in the state in 2020 signed the State Penal Code (Amendment) Law 2020, which provides stiff penalties for rapists.
The law provides surgical castration and removal of fallopian tubes of male and female convicts respectively upon conviction of raping a child.
The principal law, the Penal Code Law No. 5 of Kaduna State, 2017, as amended by substituting Section 258, now provides that.
“Whoever commits rape of a child below the age of fourteen (14) years shall on conviction, be punished with surgical castration and death.(NAN)