By Taiye Edeni
Alliance Against Child Abuse and Molestation (ACAM), an NGO, on Wednesday proposed stricter laws against offenders to reduce the rate of child abuse and sexual molestation in Nigeria.
The Founder of the Group, Vivian Elebiyo-Okojie made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
“The Alliance Against Child Abuse and Molestation (ACAM) is a group of over 100 passionate professionals at home and in the Diaspora interested in making legislative changes in Nigeria.
“ Our immediate goal is to work on changing the laws regarding sexual molestation in Nigeria. We are fighting for stricter laws and regulations.
“ We are proposing to rehabilitate victims, educate parents, and sensitise the community.
“Millions of children in Nigeria are being sexually molested annually with so many cases not being reported by the victims.
“A research done last year by Mirabel Centre, in four Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Lagos State alone revealed that 1,110 children between the ages of 1 and 17 years old were molested in 2016 alone.
“ We have 774 LGAs in Nigeria, and with that in mind we assumed if those numbers were reflective of what the current situation is we would assume that approximately one million children were sexually abused in Nigeria last year alone.
“With the culture of silence it’s been almost impossible to get accurate numbers and statistics on cases. The rising numbers of cases this year alone is alarming,“ she said.
Elebiyo-Okojie, however, said that they are working on a bill to be presented to the national assembly that would reduce cases of child abuse, sexual molestation, which would give more power to victims.
“To reduce these cases we have come up with a bill that would reduce offenders by reducing molesters’ access to children, and treating cases as both criminal offence and mental illness.
“The bill would give more power to the victims not the parents but the victims.
“It would involve close monitoring of people in charge of childcare and would create a red flag zone for offenders.
“We just don’t want another bill or law. The child act bill of 2003 isn’t effective as it should be.
“We want to have a clear cut law in place to make sexual molestation a crime.
“We want an agency to be in charge of this and we appeal to the public to be whistle blowers in cases of child molestation,“ she said.
Okojie, however, advised parents to communicate with their kids and pay attention to individuals in charge of their children in school and at home.