19th August, 2020
By Ojo Oluwafemi
Wife of Ondo State Governor, Mrs Betty Akeredolu, has called for the involvement of social work professionals in investigating rape and other violence against women and children to enable victims speak out on their traumatic experience.
Mrs Akeredolu spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sidelines of the 4th Ondo State stakeholders Meeting on Sexual and Gender Based Violence held at the Government House in Akure on Tuesday.
The governor’s wife described as worrisome the increasing cases of rape and other violence against women and children, saying that the rapists have graduated to killing victims after perpetrating their evil acts.
She said that the primary aim of the stakeholders meeting was to put an end to sexual based violence in the state and enhance manpower and other resources needed to prevent the menace and comfort the victims.
According to her, “we are looking at the areas of counselling, which is part of psychosocial support, as well as people who really have the language to get reliable information from the victims.
“I do not know what to say probably if I come across a rape victim, but professionals will know what to do; the same thing applies to the reporting system that mostly happen when such cases are reported to security agents.
“The security agents should be trained on how best to ask appealing and right questions from the victims, several times we had complaints when security agents will use derogatory words to ask questions from the victim.
“Obviously, such questions and kind of language is even abusive on its own, it discourages the victims to speak out.
“So, we must have professionals who can ask questions without insulting the victims, since the issue has become a cancer on it own,” she said.
She further advocated for the inclusion of courses in the higher institutions curriculum to train necessary manpower.
The state Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs Titi Adeyemi, said that provisions had been made in the reviewed 2020 budget for sexual based violence in the state.
Adeyemi said that her ministry had designed a website aimed at providing brief and meaningful information, provide data on children home, sexual based violence and other issues of interest.
Mrs Bola Ogundadegbe, who represented the Ministry of Justice, said that necessary amendment was ongoing in a new bill to accommodate inputs from sexual gender based violence.
Ogundadegbe, also Chairperson of Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) in the state, said that the Commissioner for Justice, Mr Olawoye Adeyeye, has instructed the legal department to speed up drafting of the new bill for early submission to the state House of Assembly for scrutiny and passage.
Mrs Opeyemi Agunbiade of the Ondo State Primary Health Care Development Agency (OSPHCDA) said it would establish free Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) across the 18 council areas of the state.
Agunbiade said that the agency would also develop a uniform protocol for administering rape kits, forensic medical examination, injury documentation, diagnostic testing and medical reporting of all SGBV cases.
She said that training of medical and counselling personnel across the state funded hospitals through its agency would be achieved in less than two month from now.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that stakeholders at the meeting include representatives from Ministries of Justice, Education, Health, Women Affairs as well as Child Development and Female Rescue Foundation, an NGO specialising in rape cases.
Others are National Council of Women Societies, Betty Anyanwu Foundation (BAAF), Nigeria Police Force and NSCDC. (NAN)