Nigerian Prelate Calls for Collaborative Efforts to Curb Crime of Rape

Archbishop Alfred Adewale Martins of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, Nigeria.
Credit: Public Domain

The Catholic Archbishop of Nigeria’s Lagos Archdiocese is calling for joint initiatives to put an end to the upsurge of rape cases in Africa’s most populous country, describing the crime as “an intrinsic evil that infringes on the dignity and privacy of the victims.”

In a report issued by the Director of Social Communications in the Archdiocese of  Lagos, Fr. Anthony Godonu, Archbishop Alfred Adewale Martins was quoted saying, “Rape is not only appalling, and reprehensible, but it is an intrinsic evil that infringes on the dignity and privacy of the victims, causing deep scars on their psyche.”

“Rape is not only a serious crime against the victim, it is also a gross violation of the sacredness of the person’s body and an affront on the Almighty God who created the victim and every other person in His image and likeness,” Archbishop Martins was quoted as saying in the Sunday, June 28 report.

Quoting the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Nigerian Prelate underscores the negative impact of the sexual crime on the victim.

“The Holy Scriptures and the Church down through the ages have condemned all sexual perversion including rape. Rape deeply wounds the respect, freedom, physical and moral integrity of the victim. It causes grave damage to the victim, sometimes for life,” the 61-year-old Prelate says.  

He adds, “Rape is an intrinsically evil act that is even more grave and condemnable when inflicted on children either by parents (incest) or those who exercise any form of authority over them especially those responsible for their education.”

Referencing the Nigeria Police Force statistics that indicate 717 recorded rape cases, the Archbishop of Lagos says the high number of these cases is “an attestation that the society was fast plunging into the abyss of immorality.”

Increasing cases of rape have prompted protests in Nigeria’s streets with some citizens taking on social media under #WeAreTired to demand urgent action and justice for victims.

As a result, Governors in the 36 states of Nigeria declared a state of emergency over rape and other gender-based violence against women and children in the West African country.

The lamentations of the Archbishop of Lagos come days after Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama of Abuja decried the “heinous crime of rape” and demanded legal action against the perpetrators.

Archbishop Adewale of Lagos has called on various stakeholders in society to “work together to quell this social malaise before it consumes everyone.”

“Parents, religious bodies and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) must deliberately teach the boy-child respect for women; concerned government agencies must pay attention to suggestive contents that sexualize girls in musical videos as well as enforce more strict restrictions on pornographic materials that are so easily available on the internet,” Archbishop Adewale says.

He adds, “Each person must also resist the common view that people must satisfy whatever urge or desire they have as if we are lower animals that have no control over their desires and urges. Everyone must also advocate for justice for victims of rape and severest possible punishment for rapists.”

In the report, the Local Ordinary of Lagos calls on the security forces to “make justice for victims of rape a priority” and invites “health workers across the country to join hands with other relevant professionals to offer care and necessary counselling to victims of rape in order to help them overcome the trauma of the sad experience.”

To the country’s Members of Parliament, the Nigerian Archbishop says, “Find ways of ensuring that all States in the country domesticate the Child Rights Act in order to give full legal protection and guard against abuse of children, especially the girl child.”

ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.

Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa
[email protected]