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President Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State yesterday deplored the rising cases of gender-based violence (GBV) in the country. The governor, who described the situation as ritualistic, made the remarks in Asaba at the State Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) stakeholders’ conference with the theme, “Generation Equality: Stand Against Rape and other forms of SGBVs.”

Represented by his deputy, Kingsley Otuaro, the governor said rape cases had become a disturbing phenomenon that needed to be tamed because “it has a negative impact on the country’s development.”The event, organised by the Delta State Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Response Team (DSGBVRT) in collaboration with the O5 Initiative Foundation, a non-governmental organisation, was to further sensitise the public on the menace.

In his address, the Commissioner for Justice and chairman of DSGBVRT, Peter Mrakpor, said sexual and gender-based violence had become pandemic, noting that the essence of the meeting was to educate Deltans on the danger and proffer solutions to GBVs. In a similar vein, the Akwa Ibom Commissioner for Agriculture and Women Affairs, Glory Edet, has confirmed receipt of over 180 cases revolving around rape, defilement and gender-based violence in the state.

Regretting that most of the cases had gone unreported, she, however, pleaded with victims to bring the incidents to the notice of her ministry. Addressing newsmen yesterday at an event to mark the 2019 sixteen days of activism for the elimination of violence against women in Uyo, Edet submitted that the fear of stigmatisation, threats, silence, shame and intimidation had been identified as some of the reasons victims have kept refusing to report cases to the appropriate quarters. She said her ministry had partnered with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to establish a gender-based violence response unit, calling on sufferers to take advantage of the move by reporting cases of defilement, home violence and rape as well as child abuse, molestation and women battering.

The commissioner, therefore, called for the passage of the Violence against Persons (Prohibited) Law in the state. Her words: “Since October 4, 2018, when the unit was established, we have received over 180 cases and have successfully prosecuted over 18 culprits, especially cases of defilement and rape.

“The ministry deals with culprits of rape and defilement accordingly. They are not spared irrespective of status. It is worthy of note that the ministry had between September 2018 and November 2019 undertaken various activities with a view to mitigating violence against women and children in the state.

“Some of the activities carried out within this period include empowerment of Vesico-Vaginal Fistula (VVF) and Recto-Vagina Fistula (RVF) survivors, convening of stakeholders’ consultative meetings on gender-based violence, prevention and response, training of first responders on gender-based violence, establishment of a central one-stop gender-based violence, prevention and response centre with dedicated hotlines and response linkages with law enforcement agents and civil society organisations,” Edet stated that the state government had taken over the welfare of some children whose parents were convicted.

According to her, no circumstances or considerations would prevent the Governor Udom Emmanuel administration from prosecuting sexual offenders and gender-based violators, adding that the “intention is to end violence against women by 2030.”With the theme, “Orange the World: Generational Equity Stands Against Rape”, the commissioner decried that 35 per cent of women worldwide had experienced physical and or sexual violence in their lifetime, while 11 per cent of African females had witnessed same from intimate partners.

On the activities lined up for the event, Edet said the ministry would undertake a capacity building programme for key stakeholders, community influencers, faith-based organisations and other groups on the ills of gender-based violence.“We are also planning to carry out sensitisation programmes in secondary schools to fight gender-based violence. The ministry is equally making plans to empower the widows and celebrate the International Day for Disabled Persons among others,” she added.

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