Succor for Indigent People
Olubusayo Kushimo, a Fundamental Human Rights Lawyer works in an institution that provides legal services for indigent people in Lagos State, she is a young lady who wants rapist in jail in order to serve as deterrent to others. My first encounter with her was during the case of a sixteen year old girl repeatedly raped by a twenty six year old business man after four hot slaps, the innocent girl wanted to rest her case in the hand of God the silent judge. Olubusayo invited her over to be schooled and at the end of the day, the victim decided to see the rich spare parts dealer in jail, this and more are provided freely for the masses.
Seated at the entrance of the open office are indigent people who are seeking free legal services, they watch just like a chick in the presence of a hawk, wishing a hunter comes around for an everlasting separation. Confidently waiting to claim back their “rights” in a place where there are free lawyers eager to see the enforcement of rights to education, protection of children, women, provision and maintenance of clean, healthy and beautiful environment.
Ushered into her office where there were other legal luminaries attending to these people, with a perfect smile followed by complimentary did we start the discussion. Her choice of profession arose out of her passion, according to her “profession that I know has a direct impact on people’s lives. It brings smiles to the faces of people seeking justice’ this she passionately pursue. Well experienced, she specialized on these three thematic areas; defilement, compensation and enforcement of fundamental human rights.
On her table is a case of “a child that was sexually abused by her father” and the only impact she wants this to have is “deterrent to men who sexually abuse children. Their children and other peoples’ children” but most of her defilement cases “are yet to be accomplished as they are still undergoing trial at the Courts while the compensation cases have given her much joy for its accomplishment. The squirrel fell from a mahogany tree, it looked left, right and said if you did not praise me I praise myself, with the cumbersome nature of Nigeria cases an accomplishment calls for celebration.
On issue of recurrent child sexual abuse, she blamed some parents who are hindrance to successful prosecution, citing example of a ten year old child who was allegedly defiled by a neighbor, parents of the child alleged that the same neighbor had defiled the child’s twin sister but the parents had forgiven the neighbor after incessant pleas from the neighbor’s relatives and so they did not lay a complaint against the neighbor until he struck again and this time a complaint was made against him. This shows hat such assailants will continue until duly prosecuted, really bad, why a man will cause a family so much pain.
When questioned about adequacy of Nigerian laws, she answered in the affirmative, the laws are adequate presently, Nigeria can work with what we have on ground; she went further that the problem is really with the implementation of the laws, when there is no avenue for proper implementation, the laws are useless, work with available laws, implement them, and lop already existing laws when the need arises will be a good option. Kushimo restated hat abandoning existing laws is not a guarantee that Nigeria would implement more rounded laws. Like the African saying goes, “a bird in hand is better than two in the bush”
She reiterated existence of available laws, such as the Child Rights Law and the Domestic Violence Law which safeguards women and children, and advised that government should provide resources that will enable the smooth implementation of these Laws. To the lawyer, provision of welfare packages such as rehabilitation homes, schools for children who are placed under the protective custody of the government or selected guardians will strengthen the society, in addition to awareness creation about existence of these laws..
Challenges at prosecution of sexual violence according to Olubusayo have not affected existence of the law because the issue of poverty plays significant part. Bribery makes parents of victims refuse to prosecute assailants their silence is bought while the short and long term consequences are not considered while some parents refuse to speak out against assailants due to fear of stigmatization or isolation by their community or society.
The overall challenges of sexual assault cases in Nigeria include reporting the offence before two months, corroboration by two or three witnesses etc, but the Lawyer educated that appropriate protocols will assist in effective service; a victim or parent must know if the victim is too young, do not destroy the evidence of scratch marks, bites, semen, blood stain etc that may have resulted from the attack. She is not expected to take her bath though the temptation to do so is great, as this will destroy evidence which will be useful in prosecuting the assailant in Court. Victim of rape is to be taken to the police station to lay a compliant against the assailant.
Olubusayo explicated further “the police are expected to refer the child to a hospital particularly government hospital and in ideal cases, accompany such child and parent to hospital. However, this is to be done in good time to enable the child to be tested by qualified Doctor who determines the exact position and place the child on medication to prevent infections or illnesses. The police will then institute proceedings against the man in court and reports from the police and Doctor will prove useful in court”.
To be remembered as one who “impacted people positively, cared for people and made things better and more conducive” is Olubusayo’s dream as she believes that “good” is the only word that can describe her person. Olubusayo touches lives, asserts a Victim Advocate.
This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future, which is providing rigorous web 2.0 and new media training for 31 emerging women leaders. We are speaking out for social change from some of the most unheard from corners of the world. Meet Us.
This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future, which is providing rigorous web 2.0 and new media training for 31 emerging women leaders. We are speaking out for social change from some of the most forgotten corners of the world. Meet Us.