The Minister of State for Transportation, Sen. Gbemisola Saraki, on Thursday, urged rape victims to speak out, saying that silence was no longer an option if they wanted to get justice.

Saraki gave the advice at a webinar on ‘Enforcing Policies and Legal Instruments Against Sexual Harassment and Exploitation in the Maritime Industry’.

The webinar was organised by Women in Maritime Journalism (WIMAJ) to commemorate the 2020 Day of the Seafarers.

Saraki, who was represented by Mrs Asmau Adaji, Deputy Director, Marine Pollution, Federal Ministry of Transportation, said that the fight against female sexual harassment required effective collaboration of all stakeholders.

She said that such stakeholders include government, shipping companies, the media, civil society and the victim who must be courageous to speak up.

The minister said that organizations and individuals must shun the culture of silence.

“Human dignity must be respected at all times and places, there should be increased protection of women’s rights under the law.

“The Federal Ministry of Transportation, with the assistance of maritime agencies, is committed to formulating policies in line with our subsisting law to address this sad phenomenon which erodes human dignity and inhibits the womenfolk from pursuing careers and exploring their potential in the maritime sector,” she said.

Saraki said the experience had shown that female sexual harassment in the maritime industry remained largely unreported due to fear of stigmatization and victimization.

According to her, shipping companies have a role to play in addressing this inhuman practice by publicizing the reporting procedures and ensuring the victim’s confidentiality.

She said that they must show the commitment to deal with such incidents so as to instill confidence in the victims and deter intending offenders.

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