By Osondu Ahirika
The Executive Chairman of the Ethical and Attitudinal Reorientation Commission, Dr Dorothy Thompson, has called for urgent action to address the ever increasing cases of rape and sexual harassment in the society.
Dr Thompson made the call during a chat with newsmen on the heels of a mass rally against rape by Women of Eket Senatorial District held at Eket Local Government Area with the theme, ‘Say No to Rape’.
The EARCOM Boss lamented that the issue of rape and cases of sexual harassment against women and the girl child is alarmingly on the increase and even young boys and underaged children are being preyed upon by homosexuals and paedophiles.
She further decried the fact that, the case is not unique to any particular location, but has become prevalent in the society, including religious places of worship, schools, markets and even biological parents or relatives being the perpetrators of this evil.
While calling for urgent action by all against rapists wherever they may be found and caught, Dr Thompson lauded the Akwa Ibom First Lady, Her Excellency, Dr Martha Udom Emmanuel in leading from the front, the war against rape, gender based violence and associated vices.
Dr Thompson advocated for a safe environment that would enable women share their experiences without fear, and ensure diligent investigation and prosecution of offenders of such allegations.
She endorsed the life imprisonment penalty for rapists recently passed into Law by the Akwa Ibom State Government and called on law enforcement agencies, traditional and community leaders, parents and all well meaning citizens to act and expose all cases of rape to the authorities.
Earlier, the rally which was led by the President of Eket senatorial District Women’s Forum, ESDWF, Her Royal Majesty, Akwa Obonganwan Patience Ukpa, Eket took their campaign to the Eket Council Secretariat, the palace of the Paramount Ruler of Eket, HRH E. C. D Abia and the Divisional Police Headquarters, Eket.
Akwa Obonganwan Ukpa, condemned sexual harassment against women and berated rapists, saying sex without consent is evil, abominable and totally unacceptable in a sane society.
The ESDWF President maintained that, the act of rape can no longer be condoned or treated with kid gloves and called for change by those who indulge in the evil act before the law catches up with them. She charged victims to sweeping their violation by rapists under the carpet or parents, lawyers and law enforcement agencies to force victims to withdraw their allegations for fear of stigmatization.
She called on rape victims to speak out, stressing that, there are laws put in place to protect them.
Earlier, while receiving the women in his Palace, the Eket Paramount Ruler, Obong Abia, called on all and sundry to restore our cultural values which accords women their dignity and self respect as our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters. He assured that, the traditional institution will not tolerate rape which he said, is alien to our culture.
Abia pledged support for women to overcome whatever challenges they may face, stating that he will work hard to ensure a sexual abuse – free society for women.
Also speaking at the event, Dr. Ini Adiakpan, Coordinator Eket Women, wives of Ibeno and Esit Eket Council Chairmen and other women stakeholders in the Senatorial District, lent their weighty voices to the campaign against rape and gender based violence
agreeing that, it was time to speak up, speak out and stand by victims of sexual abuse, saying the culture of silence must end.