NGO urges maritime agencies to enforce law against sexual violence

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A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Women in Maritime Journalism (WIMAJ), has urged organizations in the maritime industry to prioritise enforcement of law and policies that would protect women against sexual violence.

The Chairperson of WIMAJ, Mrs Ezinne Azunna, in Lagos on Tuesday condemned in strong terms the incessant cases of rape and violence against women in Nigeria.

According to her, the recent national discussions on putting an end to rape and sexual violence against women, must take into cognisance occurrences of sexual harassment and abuse at the workplace.

She called on organisations to ensure that people found culpable are punished according to the law.

“There are reports pointing to experiences of sexual harassment and abuse of females who work in the industry, especially seafarers who many times have to stay on board vessels working for months.

“Organisations and victims must shun the culture of silence, inaction and cover-ups if such ugly incidents will be stopped.

“Irrespective of the gender, no human being should be sexually exploited,” she said in a statement.

Azunna said there was an urgent need to ensure that individuals found guilty of rape were given stiffer punishments, regardless of their positions in the society.

Azunna urged agencies in the maritime sector to come up with bold policies on sexual abuse as silence often encouraged predators.

She noted that seafarers had been victims of rape perpetrated by pirates who hijacked vessels and held crews hostage,.

The WIMAJ boss advised government to expedite action for the implementation of the Deep Blue Project embarked upon by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

She pointed out that it was expected that the project would effectively tackle sea piracy and ensure the safety of lives at sea.

Azunna lamented at situations where rape victims who suffered severe psychological trauma were stigmatised while the perpetrators walked freely in the society unpunished.

She pledged support for victims who would speak out.

“Rape and sexual violence are criminal offences and should not be swept under the carpet and victims must be encouraged to speak out.

“Agencies must show that the industry is not weak in this regard and will fully implement policies and laws that protect workers.

“The Nigeria Police must also be ready to carry out a thorough unbiased investigation to rid the society of this evil,” Azunna said. (NAN)

– Jun. 16, 2020 @ 12:35 GMT |

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