Lagos State Government has reiterated its commitment and resolve to stamp out Rape, Domestic Violence, Child Abuse, Maltreatment and Neglect from the State.
The State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice Mr. Adeniji Kazeem disclosed this at a symposium with the theme, “’IT’S ON US TO END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND CHILDREN” organised by the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) in collaboration with Access Bank’s Financial Control and Strategy Group.
The symposium was organised to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and 16 days of activism against gender violence.
The Lagos Attorney-General, who was represented by the Director of Public Prosecution Mrs. Idowu Alakija said that the State Government, under the aegis of the DSVRT has embarked on various innovative projects, enlightenment and sensitisation campaigns all geared towards increasing victim safety and offender responsibility, by providing a cross jurisdictional response in the manner in which Sexual and Gender Based Violence matters are handled in the State.
“We are also in the process of establishing more Shelter and Transit homes for victims and would-be survivors of Domestic Violence so as to ensure that all the support services are available for survivors who have the courage to stand up, speak out and say Enough is Enough, I need help”, Kazeem disclosed.
Kazeem emphasised that the symposium seeks to inspire and encourage all stakeholders to increase their efforts in bringing succour to victims and ultimately eradicate this menace in our society.
“Consequently, DSVRT in Partnership with Access Bank is joining millions around the world to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and participate in the 16 Days of Activism to end violence against women and children”, he added.
Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, in his presentation, described cultural and religious institutions, especially churches and mosques, as the greatest promoters of sexual and domestic violence.
Falana vowed to challenge in court cultural practices such as the Oro Festival tradition of limiting women’s movement through acts of violence in Ikorodu, Lagos and some other parts of the south-west.
He accused some religious leaders of trivialising sexual and domestic offences, adding that when such leaders are implicated in such acts, their followers gang up against the victims for daring to make a complaint.
“If you report a case of rape, sometimes the community will gang up against you and you are stigmatised for ensuring that the law protects the victim. If we are going to talk about the law against domestic violence, we must look at our Bible and Quran; religious institutions are the greatest promoters of domestic violence”, he stated.
The Senior Advocate also lamented that female police recruits were still not allowed to marry for the first three years without approval from their Police Commissioner, despite a court declaration banning the practice.
The Group Managing Director (GMD) of Access Bank, Dr. Herbert Wigwe, in his opening remarks, said victims of such violence were usually reluctant to come forward because of fear.
He said “this forum is long overdue, our duty is to mobilise public participation towards addressing this menace. Our little girls should be trained to dream big. As women, daughters and sisters, they deserve nothing less of us.”
On his part, the Lagos Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni applauded the organisers for helping the police in its quest to arrest and convict perpetrators of such violence by convening the forum, adding that “I tell the families of any perpetrator who asks me to drop such cases to swear an affidavit to that effect in court.”