By Ephraim Oseji

The Federal Government has been urged to provide a one-stop gap for women/ girls who survived rape/ domestic violence.

Mrs. Josephine Chukwuma, CEO Project Alert, who gave this advice in Lagos, said, “We need the Federal Government of Nigeria to step in and help to stop this menace of child sexual abuse and domestic violence before it festers into an injury that cannot be healed. Women make up a large quantity of those who vote for the government.

As such, these survivors of domestic violence/ rape need what we call a one-stop center where they would have all the departments they would need to see, from a medical representative to judicial and the police. This way, they would not need to keep reliving the nightmare they have passed through every time they tell their stories as all the necessary people they need to see would be in one center.

With the increase of rape and domestic violence or child sexual abuse being reported in the social, print and electronic media, the burden of first responding to these cases falls on NGOs. They do this with a lot of passion only to be confronted by institutional challenges and dysfunctional systems that cost them human and financial resources that are already scarce and frustrate the victims and survivors and also their friends and families.

While NGOs seem to be doing a lot, there are still so many places we haven’t touched, and so we need government to step in and we want to be able to hold them accountable and fulfill the promises they keep making during campaigns.

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“For institutions like the police to be able to do more for cases of domestic violence and child abuse, they need more funds to run a quick response team for child abuse and domestic violence victims/survivors.

The dysfunctionality and poor response of these agencies stem from poor funding. Poor response to domestic and sexual violence cases in the criminal justice system starts at the police station with unprofessional insensitive response from officers along with demands for the victims and their families to fund the search for justice and collection of money from the perpetrators to settle cases.

“While NGOs can no longer keep quiet, we cannot keep doing the work of government. We need to hold our government accountable for the impunity with which sexual and domestic violence are being perpetrated against women and girls. “The Ministries of Women Affairs and Social Welfare in all states of the federation should, as a matter of urgency, set up shelters for abused women and girls; manned by trained staff and develop a system for fostering children who have been physically and sexually abused.

A child who is sexually abused at home by a family member should immediately be a ward of the state and taken away from that abusive environment. The abuser should have no access to him/ her. We hereby call for free medical treatment for victims of domestic and sexual violence in all government hospitals across the country”.

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