By Chris Onuoha
Subsequently, domestic violence and sexually related cases have been on the increase. And with security measures on ground to contain the somewhat societal ill, the perpetrators seem undeterred. Prompted by this menace, the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT), last week Thursday, September 8, held a special road walk in Ikeja and Festac Town, Lagos simultaneously as part of event to mark DSVRT domestic violent month, 2016.
September was specifically chosen as the month of public awareness with series of activities by the office, tied to domestic violence and sexually related matters, with theme, ‘Promoting positive masculinity, men as flag bearers in the fight against sexual and gender based violence’.
Flagging off the walk from Ikeja under bridge, walking through ever busy Awolowo road to the Governor’s office in Alausa Secretariat, Participants comprising students from some high institutions within South West, workers from both private and public sectors, Youth coppers, businessmen and market leaders, were addressed by the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode in his office.
Governor Ambode who was pleased with such initiative commended the DSVRT walk project team for thinking differently in the sensitization drive, especially awakening men to promote masculinity in a positive way instead of using their God given headship of homes to bully and perpetrate evil against female genders.
While emphasizing the rise of domestic violence, child trafficking, rape cases and other heinous crime against women in the society, Governor Ambode challenged the public to be proactive and especially men, to be involved. He charged the Lagos State Task Force Unit to apply necessary means available to track down offenders and also, in strong term, mandated the Unit to go all out and produce 11 culprits who will serve as scapegoats and a deterrent to others in the state.
Over time, the awareness and sensitization drive has always been focused on women to know their rights, stand firm, apply available means of defense to protect themselves, nonetheless, make swift response by reporting right violated cases to security agents and as well getting counseling from relevant agencies. However, success has been recorded through the help of available public and corporate counseling agencies, but the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) embarked on change in direction to effectively actualize and foster compliance towards women’s right in the society.
The Director, Directorate of Citizens’ Right, Lagos State Ministry of Justice, and alternate Chairman, DSVRT, Mrs. Omotilewa Ibirogba in a chat emphasized need for the change in direction.
“We have been fighting this criminality against children and women alone, although with visible results. Domestic violence of all sorts, rape cases, sexual harassment including minors and aged women are on the increase. We can’t do it alone. That’s why we deemed it necessary now to involve men; hence, they are more of the alleged culprits. This year’s theme is focused on men to utilize their position to promote positive masculinity.
We want men to be flag bearers in the fight against sexual and gender based violence in the society. We are also using this opportunity to appeal to anybody involved in any of the crimes stated to come to us for counseling or go to various centers that cater for such issues to get justice.” Ibirogba said.
Meanwhile the month long DSVRT activities continue with a symposium on sexual and gender based violence on September 13 with keynote speech by Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode and Dr. Olajide Bello delivering a paper. There will also be a panel of discussion with Mr. Imam Lukman on Islamic perspective, Magistrate T. Elias on legal angle. Others are Prof. Pat Utomi, Sony Irabor, Deji Irawo and Kola Soriyan that will be discussing various issues pertaining to homes and values. There will also be an evening of Arts and Commendation Night that will hold on September 30.