By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA-GENDER advocates have tasked the governments at both the federal and state levels to give priority attention to sexual and gender based violence, regretting that lack of such was giving rise to the ugly situation in the country.
They particularly called on the government to set up special courts for offences of gender and sexual violence just as it did to COVID-19.
The advocates drawn from different civil society organisations and government sectors also attributed corruption to inability of the country to successfully tackle violence against women and girls.
Contributing variously during a media dialogue on Ethical Reporting and Advocacy to Eliminate Violence against Women and girls in the Federal Capital Territory,FCT, organised by Spotlight Initiative and other development partners,in Abuja,they insisted on the need for government to establish special court in the land.
According to them,slow trials and corruption were seriously frustrating elimination of sexual and gender based violence in Nigeria.
They also attributed the rising cases of gender based violence in the country to corrupt security agents,who they accused of preferring to kill reported cases rather than ensuring justice.
Noting that slow trial of offenders had adversely affected speedy dispensation of justice,they regretted that securing conviction against suspected sex offenders had become so difficult,a development they said,was frustrating efforts being made to eliminate Violence Against Women and Girls,VAWG,in Nigeria.
The Desk Officer, Federal Capital Territory,FCT, Sexual and Gender Based Violence Response, Ngozi Ike who disclosed that out of the 444 reported cases of sexual offences in Nigeria, only one conviction has so far been recorded this year, insisted there must be sanctions to serve as detriment to other perpetrators of SGBV.
While noting that a multi sectoral approach was usually adopted in addressing cases of SGBV, she stressed that the establishment of special courts would hasten trials of suspected perpetrators and urge more survivals to break their silence.
“We lack special courts in Nigeria to hear such delicate cases. When you take these cases to the regular courts, they linger for a long period of time and this is not good at all,”she said.
Ike added:”If we can push for the establishment of special courts that will preside over sexual and domestic violence cases, it will give long way in according justice to survivors.”
On her side, the Child Protection Officer, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Tochukwu Odele, who noted that the lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic worsened the indices of sexual violence in the country, said Nigeria’s political structure was limiting implementation of legal and policy framework for gender laws.
She said majority of children in a survey conducted had experienced violence at home, adding that girls and women were at an increased risk for sexual violence, even as children who grow up in violent environments are at risk of perpetrating violence against the opposite gender when they grow up.
Also,the Chief, Child Protection Section of UNICEF, Ibrahim Sesay who reiterated UNICEF’s commitment to protecting women and girls, said the media remains a strategic partner on advocating, mitigating and responding to issues surrounding women and girls.
He said:”To move and ascertain those results we have committed some funds globally to mitigate issues on violence against women and girls.
“The voice of the media is powerful but it has to be ethical in nature, preserve the privacy of survivors and make sure we don’t expose images of survivors that will be embarrassing to avoid stigmatisation of the survivors or revictimise them.”