A Legal practitioner, Mr Isaiah Ode, has decried the rising incidents of defilement, as well as other forms of abuse of minors in the country.
Ode made his feelings known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in Lagos on Thursday.
“Increase in defilement cases is a warning sign of lawlessness in the society.
“Sex offenders believe that they can easily get away with anything after committing the crime,” he noted.
Ode, who defined defilement as sexual intercourse with a child under the age of 18, with or without their consent, noted that “most perpetrators of the crime are males who are often known to their victims.”
He listed such persons to include family members, including fathers, brothers and uncles, as well as friends, neighbours, teachers and others.
According to him, defilement is a serious crime that can even prove fatal, and can also create long term psychological trauma for victims.
“The child may suffer mental disorder, poor concentration at school, and other emotional and psychological problems.
“It may affect their marriage in future as many do not recover from the trauma of the abuse,” he said.
He further said some of the abused children were always intimidated by family members not to press charges or testify against the offender because of stigmatisation.
Ode, who explained that defilement also included other criminal acts such as child abuse and indecent treatment of a child, added that the Lagos State Criminal Law, 2015 Section 137 stipulates life imprisonment for defilement.
He, however, expressed disappointment that only a few of the offenders had been convicted of such crimes.
He urged judges and magistrates to sanction culprits in accordance to stipulations of criminal laws of the land.
“The Judiciary should not shy away from handing out maximum punishment to offenders when the occasion demands, to serve as deterrent to others.
“Unless the police and the judiciary take tough action against these wrongdoers, the crime will continue,” he said.
Ode called for training and retraining of all judicial workers as another way of combatting the crime.
“We should put more energy into advocacy. The same way there are campaigns against corruption, we should have more campaigns against defilement,” he added. (NAN)