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Rape Awareness: Martha Emmanuel Advocacy Paying off

Advocates Dedicated Courts For Speedy Trial- Mrs Ime Inyang

The sudden rise in awareness on issues surrounding rape, child defilement and gender domestic violence in Akwa Ibom State have been attributed to the sustained advocacy and massive awareness mounted by Her Excellency, Dr. Martha Udom Emmanuel since 2016 through her pet project, Family Empowerment and Youth Reorientation Path-initiative (FEYReP).


This was disclosed by the coordinator of the programme, Mrs. Ime Ephraim Inyang, during an exclusive interview with Crystal Express yesterday in Uyo.


According to her, “Mrs Martha Emmanuel had started her fight as far back as 2016. She led the women of Akwa Ibom to walk and traverse the streets of Uyo to register her protest over the sexual molestation of our children. She didn’t just walk alone, she didn’t just walk with women, she walked with even children of the ages that were being molested.”


“That made her to raise a cry as a mother. She did not just raise awareness but she sought for government’s intervention by asking them to put up a law in Akwa Ibom State, to domesticate that law to give strength and standing to the prosecutors in Akwa Ibom State when such cases go to them and I’m glad it’s yielding results. One of her captions then was Women don’t keep silent, Mothers don’t keep silent!.


“Martha believes that when a woman or a mother is silent, that is when people would not know what may be going on, which was dangerous. As at then, we didn’t have toll-free lines but we offered our individual lines as staff of FEYReP.


“People would call us and we would go to them instead of asking them to come to us. So the cries we are hearing all over the nation now, to us, is one of the results we’ve gotten in breaking the culture of silence. I believe that these things were all happening but people were either afraid to speak out because of stigmatization and for fear of not being able to follow through the course of justice to the end. Lots of times you find out that the people who fall victims to these things are the indigent ones so to speak”.


Speaking on some of the achievements of FEYReP, Mrs. Ime Inyang further disclosed, “Her Excellency has gone as far as partnering foreign organizations like the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to establish a gender-based violence (GBV) centre. When we talk about gender-based violence, rape is part of it, sexual assault, defilement, domestic violence, emotional abuse and everything that resembles such acts.


“A lady called in recently, saying she had a problem and that the problem was bigger than her and that she needed help. She then went on to describe her ordeal and we discovered it was a case of domestic violence. She said her husband beat her up and kicked her out of the house and took their children away. We asked her to come to the office with evidence but she said she had none. We instructed her to quickly make a report at Social Welfare Services. Sometimes it’s not every case that FEYReP will handle. When a case is such that we can handle, we do. If not, we would direct such victims or cases to the appropriate place for them to be attended to”.


Throwing more lights on the trending rape awareness on the social media, the FEYReP coordinator said, “And so for Her Excellency and her FEYReP team, it’s not as if rape is happening much more now than it used to happen, it is just that more women are now emboldened to talk about it. Men are yet to summon courage to come forward with cases of sexual harassment. We had a case here in Uyo where a seven-year old boy was anally molested by a 50 plus year old man. When the man was taken to the police station, he feigned illness and was taken to the hospital, and from there he absconded but we’re still looking for him.


“So Her Excellency on her own has done quite a lot. Recently another level of advocacy was deployed which she had to take to the royal fathers. She pleaded with them not to let FEYReP fight this battle alone but join in and render support. I know that she’s a grandchild to royalty so to speak, and she was able to relive the memory of what her grandfather used to do to such people in his time when he was alive and thankfully the royal fathers promised that if such cases are brought to their palaces, they would look at the facts of the case and treat them the way they should be treated.”


“Few days ago, women stakeholders in Akwa Ibom State were spoken to and we told them not to let the indigent ones to fight this war alone so that they don’t run into wrong hands, but guide them, show them where to go and how to go about it. Where it is beyond you, call FEYReP and we will rise to it and Her Excellency has not given up.


“This advocacy is being broken down to local government areas and very soon you’ll hear each of the local government areas carrying out their sensitization campaigns/awareness programmes on it so that parents can be well informed. Her Excellency has gone church by church in times past to talk to fathers and mothers about this issue. The fight is not going to finish in a day but she is hopeful that someday we will see results that show that a people had noticed these happenings in our society and they had been working assiduously to minimizing and ending it”.


She said it is becoming necessary for dedicated courts to be assigned to fast- track trials of rape cases in the society.

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