By Josephine Agbonkhese
No fewer than 241 women groups, on Monday, stormed the Lagos State House of Assembly, demanding the expansion of the state’s Domestic Violence Law (2007).
The women said the law, in comparison with the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (2015), has several gaps in ensuring the protection of women and girls from violent acts.
The women presented a 10-point demand signed by five EU-UN Spotlight Initiative partners including Itoro Eze-Anaba, Executive Director, Partnership for Justice; Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, Executive Director, Women Advocates Research & Documentation Centre; Tinuke Odukoya, Executive Director, Centre for Women’s Health and Information, and Barr Phil Nneji, Lagos Chairperson, Federation of Women Lawyers.
The rights activists, who held the event in commemoration of the ongoing global 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, said the current law had little or no punishments prescribed for several acts of violence prohibited.
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Reeling out the 10-point demand to the Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Musdashiru Obasa, who received them, Akiyode-Afolabi, among other things, said: “We demand that adequate resources are made available for ensuring prevention, protection and effective response to gender-based violence in the state.
“We also require adequate funds for the establishment of shelters for survivors of domestic violence in areas where none exists, as well as adequate funding for making the existing ones effective.
“We demand the allocation of funds for the expansion of state hotlines for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, the legislation of sex-offenders register, the publication of names of sex offenders and funding support for designated special courts on sexual violence in Lagos State.”
In response to their demands, Obasa, who promised to present it to the House, lamented the ongoing spate of gender-based violence in the country.
The Speaker said the Lagos State Assembly was currently working on a bill on the Domestic and Sexual Violence Law.
“This is a societal menace that affects both women and men. I read recently of how a 60-year-old man sexually abused a minor; I think it is a psychological problem.
“It is commendable that everyone is doing so much to create awareness, and also teaching school children about their body parts.
“The Lagos State Government is also doing a lot with regards to funding.
“We will look do our best to look into the demands presented because we must all play our roles to eradicate this menace from our society.”