A lot of progress has been made in the steps taken to protect the rights of women and the girl child and in the war against the oppression of the female gender. However, there is still so much to be done. We need to ask ourselves the hard question: for this cause we honour today, how can we truly ensure we are walking the talk?
In our State, there has been a significant increase in formal and informal reporting of Domestic and Sexual Violence cases, but contrary to what it appears to be, this menace is not a recent development. These occurrences have been around for years but they were seen as “norms” because nobody spoke out against them, and such acts were overlooked based on misguided definitions of gender roles.
What we are tackling today is an almost innate culture which relegates women to the background and forces them to suffer in silence. In Lagos, we are waging a war against this culture and we will do everything within our power to transform ours to a culture of equality, respect and dignity for all. It is a journey of radical transformation, and our government is wholly committed to seeing it through.
We have walked the talk as regards fighting Sexual & Gender Based Violence. The Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team has executed interventions and initiatives which include: Easy access to reporting incidents, Speedy Rescue and Access to Justice, Medical & Psycho-Social Support for Survivors, Sensitization & Policy Advocacy and the establishment of the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Trust Fund to ensure survivors are financially independent.
We are not just reactive in helping survivors but also taking aggressive steps to prevent future occurrences. Our aim is to build a system of trust and accountability, where survivors are encouraged to speak out and potential perpetrators are discouraged to commit future acts
At this juncture, we must commend the Lagos State Judiciary, particularly, the Hon. Chief Judge of Lagos State, Hon. Justice Olufunmilayo Oke for heeding the call to establish a Sexual Offences court. Thank you very much.
We are already seeing the dividends, and it is our earnest hope that justice would continue to be swift.
We must also commend the Lagos State House of Assembly, under the able leadership of the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, for the enactment of the Protection against Domestic Violence Law, 2007, the Child’s Right Law of Lagos State, 2015 and the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.
All these interventions have provided a solid platform for waging the war against Sexual & gender based Violence, now we need to improve on this foundation and become pioneering.
Rape should not be met with light sentencing; the minimum sentence of 25 years is highly recommended. We need new laws, which will respond adequately to the nature and occurrences of this era. Domestic Violence is a crime, and should be treated as such. The Protection Against Domestic Violence Law, 2007, should therefore be amended accordingly.
Similarly, the Nigeria Police Force which is usually the first point of call must strive to be more professional and ensure proper investigation of reported cases by grooming specialist officers in this area.
As the saying goes, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the next best time is now. We firmly believe that the actions we take today will be the seeds sown for a brighter future for our women and indeed, our children. We believe our State can continue to pioneer in this agenda and become a benchmark not just in Nigeria, but globally.
Our dream Lagos is one where the rights of every citizen are safeguarded and the most vulnerable are fully protected. Let us all join hands and continue to drive this worthy cause.
Itesiwaju Ipinle Eko, Lo Je wa Logun