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Workshop warns on dangers of stigmatisation of rape victims

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Speakers at a workshop on “Women’s sexual reproductive health and rights,” organised by Ipas Nigeria, an international non-profit organisation, has warned on the dangers of stigmatisation of victims of rape and other sexual violence in Nigeria.

The Policy and Advocacy Adviser of the organisation, Mrs Doris Ikpeze, gave the warning in her presentation on Thursday – day two of the four-day workshop in Owerri – entitled, “Unseen hands and consequences of sexual violence.”

Ikpeze said that many rape victims had been compelled to engage in untoward acts, including suicide and unsafe abortion, where pregnancy resulted from rape, because of the fear of stigmatisation by the society.

According to her, victims of rape already have a lot of consequential effect of sexual violence to grapple with.

Ikpeze therefore opined that societal stigmatisation against them would further worsen their plight.

She further said that stigmatisation was largely responsible for why people hardly open up, when they fall victim of rape and incest.

She said that rape or sexual violence also had other consequences on the victim, including physical suffering, change in behavioural, psychological and reproductive health of the victim.

She further said that the development could also result in withdrawal syndrome, self blame and distrust for other people.

The former Country Director of Ipas, Mrs Hauwa Shekarau, who spoke on “Nigeria’s International Commitment to Women’s Health”, said that women’s health should be both policy and human rights issue.

Shekarau, Executive Director, Women Law and Development Inititiative, said that Nigeria was a signatory to some international treatise and conventions, including The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979) and Banjul Declaration.

Others are Viena Declaration on Human Rights (1993), International Conference on Population and Development programme action (1994) and Beijing 1995, among others.

She therefore urged the government to enforce women health laws so that issues of sexual violence, maternal mortally and unsafe abortion could be effectively addressed.

(Edited By: Chidi Opara/Sam Oditah)

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