The Child Development Department in Niger says it recorded 17 rape cases, child abuse and other related violence in the state, this year.

Malam Mustapha Yinusa, Director, Child Development in the state Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Social Development, disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Minna.

Yinusa said that out of the 17 child violation cases reported, majority were rape cases and physical abuse by parents.

He said that vulnerable children suffered all forms of abused inflicted by either their parents, guardians or the society which has resulted to societal stigmatisation and physiological trauma.

“We received a case of a father who battered his own son to the extend of inflicting serious injuries on his son; he was reported to have used fire to burn his son’s hands for stealing.

“And the man threatened his wife not to report the case to any Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) for more than a month. It was when the boy’s hand started decaying with odour that the mother picked courage to report the case.

“For a parent to discipline a child in such way is an act of cruelty which is punishable.

“There are other decent ways that parents can use to discipline and correct their wards rather than using abusive and violent ways to discipline their children,” he said.

He said that the ministry usually treat such cases directly or indirectly using the police or NGOs to prosecute parents and guardians reported to have abused or violated minors.

“In the process of prosecuting, we do look at the both sides and we do it with caution, because if the accused is the bread winner of the family we cannot prosecute the accused because that will bring more problems to the family.

“In such case, what we do is to force the accused person to pay for all expenses and treatment of the victim,” the director said.

He disclosed that the ministry is collaborating with gender based NGOs, such as Women Right Protection Alternative (WRAPA), Federation of Female Lawyers, Child Protection Network and Section Assault Reference (SARC), to protect child rights in the state.

Yinusa added that the department use Psyco-Social Services approach to counsel children and parents who have been abused and suffered other related violence on how to manage the trauma.

He decried the increasing rate of rape and child violation cases on the judiciary for unnecessarily prolonging court cases and for not convicting suspects.

“The police and judiciary should help us so as to make our work easier, if a case is reported to either the police for prosecution or the judiciary for conviction they will prolong the case as such you will find the suspect walking freely on the street.

“We received a report from parents whose child was a victim of rape, that the suspect was freed from court without serving any punishment and that the suspect was walking the street as a free man.

“The parents also said that the suspect came to them and threatened them that he was freed and there was nothing the parent could do to him.

“Only when the judiciary step up to start prosecuting suspects and stop adjourning and prolonging court cases that we will have a society free from crimes,” he said.

However, he called on the judiciary to be committed in discharging its function, adding that only commitment would bring justice to the poor and reduce crimes in the society.