By Ikeugonna Eleke
At least 80 cases of rape were recorded in Anambra State during the coronavirus lockdown which lasted for five weeks, the director of child welfare services in the state Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Children and Social Welfare, Mrs. Nkechi Anazodo, has said.
Anazodo who spoke at Isuaniocha in Awka North Local Government Area of Anambra State, during the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, supported flag off of Integrated Child Protection Community Sensitization Campaign, said there were only 32 cases of rape in her ministry before the lockdown.
She said the upsurge in cases of rape had necessitated the need for a 10-day state-wide campaign in the 21 local government areas against rape.
She said: ‘Sexual violence has become the order of the day, especially during the period of lockdown. Even old men now rape children of 12 years and below. The problem we have is that people don’t report.
‘Last week, a case was brought to us of a 70 year-old man that raped a four-year old child. The case has gone to the police.
‘Before the lockdown, we had only 32 cases of rape in the ministry, but the figure recorded within the last few months is over 80. It is unfortunate that some men have left their wives to be having sexual relationship with children less than five years.
‘The most worrisome is that some fathers raped their daughters more during the lockdown. In many cases, fathers who rape their daughters threaten to kill them if they report. The problem, therefore, is that many people don’t report these cases because they feel that the victim might be stigmatized.
‘That is why we are going round the 21 local government areas of the state to create awareness on this problem.’
According to her, the state government had created a place called ‘Task Sexual Assault Centre’ at the Engwu-Ukwu General Hospital, purposely for treating rape victims, adding that once any rape victim was brought to the centre, tests would be conducted on her because of the possibility that the child might have been infested with sexually transmitted diseases, STD.
She advised that victims should be taken to the said referral hospital within two hours of the rape for effective result, noting that treatment and counseling of the victim were free and that the identity of the victim would be well protected.
‘Some people are already making use of the facility, but we want more people to be bringing the reports.
‘Once we get any case of rape, we use the police to arrest the rapist and do everything within the law to prosecute the person,’ she assured.