8th December, 2021
By Jethro Ibileke
Family members and and friends of victims of gender-based violence who solicit on behalf of the perpetrators for cases to be settled out of court will henceforth be joined in the respective cases and charged with obstructing justice and compounding felony.
Chairman of the Edo State Gender-Based Violence Management Committee and wife of the State Governor, Mrs. Betsy Obaseki gave the warning during a sensitization and advocacy tour of Edo North, Edo Central and Edo South Senatorial districts to mark the 16 days of activism against gender based violence in the State.
She noted that most cases of gender based violence are perpetrated by close relatives, friends and spouses.
The Edo First Lady led members of the Committee to sensitize traditional rulers, Muslim and Christian leaders, non governmental organizations, and other stakeholders, on the menace of gender-based violence.
She noted that the culture of soliciting on behalf of these perpetrators encourages silence on the part of the victims, which she said has become a major obstacle in the fight against gender-based violence.
She directed the attention of the stakeholders to the existence of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) law, which punishes all types of gender-based violence, including obsolete traditional practices that degrade humans, particularly women, female circumcision, rape, child marriage, disinheriting women and spousal battery.
Mrs. Obaseki also inaugurated the Student Against Gender-Based Violence Clubs in all the primary and secondary schools in the three senatorial districts, even as she charged the students to be the watch dog in their schools and promising them the support of the committee.
Earlier while declaring the event open in Edo south senatorial district, the State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, lamented the high rate of gender-based violence, even among highly-placed people in the society.
Obaseki who was represented at the event by his Deputy, Mr. Philip Shaibu, urged women to help preserve the sanctity of marriage, even as he noted that “men are wicked”.
“I want to say it the way it is, whether you are at the top or the lowest parts of the society, serious minded people, highly placed government officials, political officials, pastors, just name it, the way they treat their wives, you will think these women are not human beings.
“For you women, leave [other] marriage homes alone, be content with your own homes because you contribute to the problem.”
Resource persons who spoke at the various event centers, reeled out the provisions of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition law and the consequences of each action.
The Wife of the Edo State Deputy Governor of Edo State, Mrs. Maryann Philip Shaibu, said “statistics shows that one in every three women are victims of gender based violence. So we are determined to take this campaign to every part of the state and change this narrative.”
In her presentation, the State Commissioner For Social Development and Gender, Mrs. Maria Edekor, defined rape as “unwanted penetration of the sex organ with any object”, adding that the offense now attracts life imprisonment.
She identified other offenses punishable by this law to include “abandonment of spouse and children, disinheriting women, preventing women from working, physical, emotional and psychological abuse, indecent dressing, indecent exposure” among others emphasizing that the punishments for these offenses ranges between four years imprisonment and six months imprisonment depending on the case.
On her part, the Coordinator of the Edo State Sexual Assault Referral Center Dr. Gina Eromonsele, said “when a victim reports a case of violence, the first thing to do is to take the person to the hospital for proper investigation and documentation. Any attempt to get the victim to take a bath prior to that will result in destroying necessary evidence that will help for the prosecution of the offender.”
A Consultant Obstetrician and Gynecologist with Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Dr. Anthonia Njoku, said “when people suffer from gender based violence they probably will go back into their shell, they don’t want to talk about it which is not proper; but when they come to the hospital we will be able to prevent further complications. In a case of rape we will give them drugs that will prevent pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, and immunize them against hepatitis B among others because you don’t know who has assaulted you.”