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Governors to meet, discuss measures against rape, others

By Monsuru Olowoopejo
In response to rise in cases of rape across the country, the Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, has disclosed that discussion at next Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), will be centered on proferring effective solutions that can help reduce cases of rape, sexual violence, and others that have claimed the lives of Nigerians.

Fayemi, who is also the chairman of NGF, stated that events over in the past few days the country has witnessed acts of extreme violence perpetrated against women and children.

The governor, who gave the hint after signing ‘Compulsory Treatment and Care for Child Victims of Sexual Violence Bill, 2020’ billion into law on Friday, stated that sexual violence and rape cases have become a national scourge that must be addressed completely.
He said: “Over the past few days, our country has witnessed acts of extreme violence perpetrated against women and children. In our state, the story is not different.  Not a day passes without reported cases of rape and child defilement.
“To address this, I will be engaging the Nigeria Governors’ Forum at our next meeting to determine what emergency measures can be put in place to address this crisis more effectively and on a national basis”, Fayemi added.
 
Before that, the governor urged the state House of Assembly to engage civil society and the private sector with a view to identifying urgent interventions in ending violence against women and girls that can be implemented without delay.

On the new law, the governor stated that it reaffirms the present administration’s commitment not only to prompt medical care for child victims of sexual violence but also supports our resolve to achieve the effective prosecution of sex offenders.

“Today, I’m proud to sign a law, ‘Compulsory Treatment and Care for Child Victims of Sexual Violence Bill, 2020’, that affirms one of the important policies of my administration. That is our policy of zero tolerance of all forms of sexual violence against women and children”.

“First, by virtue of the Compulsory Treatment and Care for Child Victims of Sexual Violence Law, 2020’ a child victim of sexual violence in this State will have rapid access to a medical facility that can administer emergency medical care, including treatment to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases and counseling”.
Aside from the law, the governor stressed that the state sex offenders register would be modernised to become effective in combating sexual violence and that existing laws would be reviewed with the aim of proposing to the House of Assembly necessary legislative changes to ensure rape and child defilement offenses attract harsher sentences.
“The Ministry of Justice is further directed to reaffirm state policy of opposing bail and rejecting plea bargain proposals from perpetrators of rape and child defilement. The State Government’s policy of ensuring that convicted sex offenders do not benefit from my power of prerogative of mercy remains in force.
“We will strengthen the Gender Based Violence Management Committee to continue to provide rapid and comprehensive responses to all forms of violence against women and children. In particular, the GBV Management Committee will be empowered to improve the collection and analysis of data to monitor our GBV programmes.  A statewide sexual violence prevalence study will be commissioned in the general population to enable us have reliable data on nature of the problem.
“Given the urgency of the situation, we have developed an Emergency Action Plan, which will be implemented over the next six months. The Gender Based Management Committee located in the office of the Wife of the Governor with representations from government and civil society organizations will drive this emergency action plan.
“As part of our emergency response and with a view to embarking on preventive measures, we are going to launch a mass media campaign that will target communities, public spaces, workplaces, campuses and schools across our 16 Local Government Areas.
“An important part of our response is to strengthen our criminal justice system. We are reviewing our laws on sexual violence to prioritize the needs and interests of survivors, while at the same time ensuring that perpetrators are swiftly prosecuted.
“The Ministry of Justice is already working on measures to clear the backlog of rape and child defilement cases stalled because of the closure of courts during the COVID 19 period. We are determined to improve conviction rates and provide comprehensive and appropriate support services to ensure survivors of sexual offenses are not subject to further trauma.
“To achieve this in concrete terms, we need to engage with the Judiciary on the role that it can play in supporting the State’s efforts to end sexual violence.  Sex offenders must know that they will be caught and that they will face the consequences of their actions.
“Our response has not been limited to law and justice.  The economic situation of our women is also an important factor in dealing with gender-based violence. The twin issues of poverty and unemployment are key factors in this regard.  The government will continue to prioritize women when it comes to access to employment, training opportunities, and small business opportunities.  We will support women engaging in small business and informal sector activity, and we call on established businesses to be part of this effort”.

 

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