Lawan advocates stiffer penalty for rapists

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan on Tuesday pledged the National Assembly will give more support for women participation in governance, politics, business and other spheres of life.

Lawan made the pledge after he was presented with an award of HeForShe by a group of women led by the Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen in Abuja.

He said, “I believe we should give our women all the opportunities available for them to participate not only in governance but in all spheres of life, because governance is limited.

“The majority of Nigerians are women. It is not 50‐50, I think it is about 48‐52, and you need to unleash such powerful group into your national development. You must have a conscious agenda and plan to get the best of this lot, and I believe we can’t wait any more.

“We should be in a hurry, even though in a hurry we must be very meticulous in ensuring that we get every issue properly addressed to support our women”.

The Senate President said having understand the importance of women empowerment, something must be done to achieve the desired results, and expressed his readiness to support President Muhammadu Buhari in that regard.

“I am going to support Mr. President fully, and in the legislature here we will play our part and role very well to ensure that we give our women the desired tonic, the support they required to make them participate in governance, in politics, in business, in everything”, he said.

Lawan said there are not enough women as role model particularly in the northern part of the country and called for more efforts to provide girl-child education for women to reach their desired level of education and contribute in whatever their potentials will allow them.

According to him, “the fact remains that we have to encourage those we work with to ensure that they provide the leadership that will be exemplary to others who are outside, to be role models, that is what we lack.

“All over the country we have that deficit, but we have it more in northern part of the country. Personally, I believe a girl should be given opportunity to go to any level of education. If she wants to read up to PhD so be it.”

Lawan said in addition to empowerment there is need for concerted efforts to protect women and girls, particularly from sexual predators and called for stiffer penalties for convicted rapists.

“Last year the incident of rape was rampant but thank God it is coming down and I believe that the consequences on anyone involved in rape incident must be extremely punitive and prohibitive.

“Because if you educate or empower a girl is like you educate the nation. The reverse is also the case. If you destroy one is like destroying the nation.

“So for anyone to engage in destroying the life of innocent, sometimes even little babies, I didn’t know if death sentence will not be the kind of necessary punishment for this kind of a thing.

“Our laws must be extremely stiff to protect our women and girls from this kind of phydophyle behaviour and attitude to life”.

Earlier in her remark, Dame Pallen Tallen said the HeForShe is a global initiative and a solidarity movement for gender equality between men and women.

The initiative, she said was to engage men and boys as advocates and agents of change in the efforts to achieve gender equality and women empowerment.

The award to the Senate President, she said was in recognition of his support to women issues and urged the Senate to amend the 1999 constitution to repeal discriminatory laws that hinder the realization of gender equality and women advancemen

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