Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly has at today’s plenary passed a bill on free and compulsory medical treatment as well as care for child victims of sexual abuse in the state into law.
Presenting the report, the Chairman, House Committee on Women Affairs and Deputy Speaker, Rt. Hon. Princess Felicia Bassey, explained the need to protect children who are victims of sexual abuse and provide free, complete and compulsory medical treatment and care for them.
The deputy speaker frowned at the high rate of sexual abuse on vulnerable children in the state, saying that in most cases the victims are denied prompt and adequate medical attention and called on parents to always make official report on such cases.
“Sexual abuse against children has become a recurring decimal and inimical to decency. Perpetrators sometimes go unpunished, victims are denied access to free health care services and in some cases no official report is made of the incident”, she said.
The Committee therefore recommended among other things that child victims of sexual violence should be given free and compulsory medical treatment and a sexual assault referral centre should be set up, adding that any hospital that fails to report cases of sexual violence or abuse is liable to a fine of one million naira.
“Even parents or guardians who fail to report or prevents a hospital from making a report of case of sexual violence is liable to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 3 months with no option of fine.”
The committee further recommended that any person, authority, including Police Officer or Security Agent that stands by and fails to perform his duty under the law has committed an offence and is liable upon conviction to a fine of five hundred thousand naira or imprisonment for two years or both.
The House after a clause by clause affirmation, thereafter adopted the recommendations of the Committee and passed the bill into law after third reading.