Wife of Lagos State Governor, Mrs. Bolanle Ambode on Wednesday urged community leaders and members of the society to rise up against domestic and sexual violence, just as she said that people must be made to be aware of the heavy punishment for perpetrators of such crime.
Mrs. Ambode, who spoke in Ikorodu at a town hall meeting organized by the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) in partnership with the Ayangburen of Ikorodu, Oba Kabiru Shotebi, said community leaders must spread the message to prevent the crime, adding that such was necessary to combat the menace and discourage people from indulging in it.
The wife of the Governor, who was represented by Mrs. Titilayo Ogunlewe, wife of Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, commended DSVRT for being at the vanguard of the fight against the crime, but reiterated the fact that Rape and Defilement carry life imprisonment, whilst domestic violence and child abuse are all crimes committed against the State.
She said: “It is also important to sensitise members of the public on the impact these crimes can have on the victim, understanding the multiple effects on the victim, immediate family and the community. If members of the society are aware of their roles and responsibilities, more victims would be willing to come forward and therefore help in ensuring perpetrators are brought to book.”
The town hall meeting, which took place at the Palace of Ayangburen of Ikorodu, was said to be in line with the mandate and commitment of the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode to combat all forms of domestic and sexual violence crimes.
The theme of the Town Hall Meeting was: The Role of the Society in Tackling Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV).
Earlier in her welcome remarks, DSVRT Coordinator, Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi, said the meeting was in clear response to the reprehensible trend where victims of SGBV are ostracized and harassed by the community because they reported the crime.
She disclosed that there have been instances where the victims have been pressurized by the society to settle out of court.
According to her, “The strategic initiative taken by the DSVRT is to embark on grassroots sensitisation campaigns which aim to enlighten key stakeholders and influencers within the society on the right steps to take in response to an incidence SGBV.”
On his part, Oba Shotebi harped on the important role of the society, which can be summarised as report the act, protect the victim, encourage justice and shame the perpetrator.
The monarch sounded a clear warning that the culture of stigmatisation would no longer be tolerated, just as he said that such was of utmost importance as recent statistics revealed an increase in the reporting of these incidents in Ikorodu area and its environs.
The contact details of relevant agencies in Ikorodu was given out and victims of Sexual Assault were advised to go to Primary Health Care Centres in Ikorodu as Health Workers had recently been trained on sexual assault management and equipped with Rape kits and cost of laboratory testing had been provided for by the State Government.
The meeting had all the relevant stakeholders in attendance namely officers of National Union Road Transport Workers, Market Men and Women, artisans, the Nigeria Police, Faith Based Organisations, Community Development Associations, Vigilante groups, Landlord and Tenant Associations, Sole Administrators of the Local Government, traditional rulers, civil society organisations, school children drawn from both public and private schools and the media.
Dignitaries that attended the town hall meeting included Mrs Ambode, Senator representing Lagos East at the upper legislative chamber, Gbenga Ashafa; Majority Leader of Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade and a member of the Assembly from Ikorodu, Hon. Nurudeen Saka, among others.