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Lagos Govt. puts religious leaders through gender-based violence laws, others

Concerned by the need to prevent deaths and other life-threatening effects through Domestic and Gender-Based Violence across Lagos, the State Government has engaged both Christian and Muslim clerics as well as leaders, interacting and enlightening them on what had been described as a menace to the society.
 
Aside from that, the government through its Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency (DSVA) exposed the religious representatives to the criminal code and other laws already instituted to control these violences and measures put together to protect victims across the state.
 
During the engagements, the religious leaders were also put through how they could counsel their members, especially couples to address headlong issues of sexual and gender-based violence in their churches and mosques.
 
Addressing the religious leaders at the LCCI Ikeja on Thursday, the Executive Secretary DSVA, Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi said that the decision to engage the religious leaders is to empower them towards preventing another form of violence among their members and neighbours in the state.
 
According to her, religious leaders play a key role in shaping belief systems, especially through their pulpits and they are usually first responders whenever issues of gender-based violence occur because survivors often reach out to their pastors and alfa to stop the menace or for advice whenever these cases occur in their homes and neighbourhood.
 
“Our mandate statutorily is to ensure we leave no one behind in our advocacy, so the way we are engaging religious clerics is the same way we engage other critical stakeholders like community leaders, traditional rulers and everyone that has a role to play in the community.
 
“The truth is that sexual and Gender-Based Violence is not a respecter of age, class, grade or religion. Anybody can perpetrate it and can as well become a victim, so it is important to engage religious leaders from this perspective.
 
“We know sometimes they serve as first responders whenever issues of gender-based violence are reported. We need to let them know the relevant laws including the Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency Law 2021 which introduced some new provisions like child pornography sex for grades, and frustrating investigation among others that exist and support services available that their congregation can take advantage of any time the need arises.
 
“And that is why we made them know the 22 police stations that have designated desks or gender-based violence. Also, we let them know that there is a special court set aside to entertain issues relating to sexual and gender-based violence and that does not indicate that others do not entertain them.
 
She said the engagement will further broaden the knowledge of the participants to know their role in how to make a case for survivors as well as make necessary referrals to relevant responder agencies and seek justice for them.
 
Speaking on the engagement, the Presiding Chaplain, Chapel of Christ De Light Lagos State, Dr. Oladele Ajayi, said: “The reality is that we have this problem around and as a pastor we have seen so many issues on domestic violence, either complaint by a wife or husband it could be emotional financial or physical abuse at some point we have to engage to the level of separation. 
 
“We must continue to inform them about the laws of the land that can arrest anyone that perpetrate in any form of abuse and people should desist from stigmatising those that have come out to speak of being abused.”
 
Also, the Chief Missioner Nasirullahi-li-Fathi Society of Nigeria (NASFAT), Abdul Azeez Onike, who described domestic violence as a major issue, stated that this was the reason Islam preached against acts that could jeopardize peaceful coexistence among couples.
 
The cleric, meanwhile, commended the state government for taking up the initiative that will improve family ties and bring about a perfect society that is devoid of rancour, and enmity and ensure sanity among the citizenry.

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