Appropriation of fund for the Ministry of Women Affairs to cater for victims of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, society’s reorientation, family health education, strengthened Guidance and Counselling unit in schools, immediate refferal to the hospital; and free medical attention formed parts of the identified measures to tackle the increasing rape cases.
The aforementioned factors were highlighted today during the stakeholders’ meeting organised by the wife of Ondo State governor, Arabinrin Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu to galvanise action against rape and minors’ defilement.
Addressing the stakeholders at the Rotunda Hall of the government house, the Convener expressed the commitment and determination of Wives of Governors in Nigeria to exert their energies to curb the menace in the society; a decision they made at their virtual meeting last week.
Mrs Akeredolu who was displeased with the fact that only Ondo State in the Southwest was yet to domesticate the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPP), engaged the stakeholders on factors that needed to be considered in the Act which is subjected to amendment based on each state’s peculiarities.
She emphasised the need for a comprehensive data of sexually abuse cases through a strong synergy among the stakeholders.
Reacting to the allegation that policemen are compromising rape cases by shielding perpetrators and fail to charge them to court after being bribed, like the recent case in Owo, the State Commissioner of Police, CP Bolaji Salami assured that under his supervision as the new Police boss, no rapist would be delayed from prosecution, except if there was no evidence.
He avowed his readiness to investigate the Owo case and bring feedback to the First Lady as soon as possible.
On the allegation that Doctors in the State Hospitals do demand for a specific amount before releasing a medical report of rape victims, the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Wahab Adegbenro admitted that there could be sharp practices, but emphasised that treatment of such cases were free and promised to investigate the allegation.
He, however, noted that victims must be referred to the health facility within six hours, saying if the stipulated time elapsed, it would be difficult to get evidence to present.
The Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs. Titi Adeyemi, whose ministry was unanimously agreed on to coordinate sexually based violence activities, stated that she had proposed a Sexual Assault Referral Centre, capacity building for Frontline officers and funding in the revised edition of the 2020 budget.
The Chairperson of the Federation of Female Lawyers in the state, Mrs. Joy Ogundadegbe affirmed that the Ministry of Justice had compiled the data of rape cases and would be made available in no distance future.
Other stakeholders at the meeting, which included Representatives of the National Orientation Agency, Civil Society Organisations, Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps, opined that it should be incorporated in the VAPP Act that treatment of rape victims, right from the stage of collection of card to the issuance of medical report be free.
They also agreed on the need for aggressive public sensitisation to inculcate moral values in the young ones, to be sensitive and not be gullible to easily fall for the tactics of rapists.