5 die in process, gets over 150 cases monthly
By Olasunkanmi Akoni and Nelson Alu
The Lagos State Government has revealed that it recorded a total of 10,007 reported cases of domestic violence including sexual abuse perpetrated against adults and children between May 2019 till August 26, 2021.
The state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo, disclosed this on Wednesday, in Alausa, Ikeja, at a media briefing on the highlight of activities to commemorate the Domestic and Sexual Violence Awareness Month, September.2021, being organized by Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team, DSVRT.
The theme of the event is: “Institutionalizing our Reforms.”
Onigbanjo, who is also the chairman of DSVRT, lamented that despite the team’s
various initiatives as well as the zero-tolerance declared in the state, it has continued to see a steady increase of formal reportage of domestic violence cases of over 150 cases daily.
He explained that the theme was based on the critical need to ensure that all the interventions made are institutionalised and systems are in place to ensure that the response of the state to Sexual and Gender-Based Violence is well structured and service delivery is fully optimal.
Giving the data of the cases, Onigbanjo stated: “Under Mr Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration, DSVRT, from May 2019 till August 26, 2021, has handled 10,007 cases which are into two categories, adults and children.
“The breakdown of the cases shows 4,150 domestic violence, 177 rape, 255 attempt to commit rape/sexual assault, 246 sexual assault by penetration /threat, 877 others separation, not taking responsibilities of the child(ren), neglect, custody of the child, Non-GBV, among others, 436 child abuse/Physical assault, 271 Defilement cases, 13 defilement by minor to minor, 454 child labour, abduction neglect/others,148 sexual harassment/molestation cases.
“A total of 2,980 children have experienced emotional abuse (These children have been exposed to domestic violence within the home).
“Some of these children have been taken through counselling programs to ensure they are able to psychologically deal with the events they have witnessed without it having a permanent and negative impact on them.
“Since May 2019, the team began to attend to an average of 150 new cases monthly.
“We have also witnessed an increase in reporting of cases from other States, mostly from Ogun and Oyo States. In the past two years, a total of 526 cases occurred outside Lagos.
“Such cases are promptly referred to the relevant agencies in their respective states.”
Onigbanjo added that the Office of the Public Defender, OPD, Lagos Public Interest Law Partnership, LPILP, as well as the International Federation of Women Lawyers, FIDA, provided free legal representation to 188 survivors of domestic violence, ranging from judicial separation, divorce, custody of children, mediation and settlement.
Regarding provision of shelter for survivors, he said the Ministry of Youth and Social Development, as well as strategic partners: Non-Governmental Organisations, including God’s Home for Women, Day Spring, Project Alert, and Cee Hope, have played key roles in ensuring rescued survivors are evacuated to a safer environment of shelter homes.
According to him, all the survivors of sexual assault received medical attention from comprehensive Primary Health Care Centres, General Hospitals and sexual assault referral centres such as: Mirabel Centre, Women at Risk International Foundation, WARIF, as well as Idera Centre.
On child protection law, Onigbanjo stated: “In view of DSVRT’s mandate to implement the Executive Order on Safeguarding and Child Protection, all reports of Child Protection Policy contravention in schools were duly responded to.
“From May 2019 till date, the attention of DSVRT, Office of Education Quality Assurance as well as Department of School Social Work of the Ministry of Youth and Social Development has been drawn to incidents of Child Abuse in 37 schools.
“All erring schools were investigated by the Office of Education Quality Assurance in the Ministry of Education. All the sexual violence-related cases are being prosecuted by the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, judgment has been secured in 2 of the cases.
“One school was shut down as a result of infractions, whilst one was requested to relocate in view of the safeguarding and child protection concerns raised during the investigation
“In 2021, the team has provided services to 10 Persons with Disabilities who were experiencing one form of Gender-Based Violence or the other.
“In 2021 alone, the team has sadly received reports of 5 victims of Domestic Violence who have died, all of which were escalated to the Police as well as the Chief Coroner of Lagos State for a coroners inquest to be conducted with a view to ascertaining the cause of death, the outcome of which would greatly strengthen the case of the prosecution.
“Prosecution is ongoing in 3 of the cases whilst the remaining two suspects are currently on the run.”
On notable achievements in the period under review, Onigbanjo stated that Directorate of Public Prosecutions secured over 365 convictions for various sexual offenses, including rape, defilement, sexual assault by penetration, and sexual assault.
“From January till date, the virtual system has provided legal, psychosocial, referral as well as emergency services to 841 adults and 105 children; a total of 946 cases,” be revealed.
“In a bid to ensure survivors can access care at all levels, the Team partnered with Ford Foundation in building the capacity of designated and pilot private hospitals to be able to provide sexual assault management services to survivors.
“These pilot health facilities located across the metropolis were also provided with Rape Kits as well as data reporting tools to standardize reporting in the state.”
Giving the highlight on activities lined up, Onigbanjo stated:”The Team is set to organise Town Hall Meetings on Domestic and Sexual Violence, with a view to engaging and sensitising residents of Iba and Iyana Ipaja Local Governments on SGBV as well as the services available to survivors. The community engagements are slated for Tuesday and Wednesday, 14 and 15 of September 2021.”
On safe guarding and child protection day, he stated that recent statistics conducted by the state government in partnership with UNICEF revealed that 1 in 4 girls would be abused before the age of 18 years old., while 1 in 10 boys would be abused before the age of 18 years old.
“It is, therefore, of utmost importance that we engage children timeously to prevent them falling prey to paedophiles and perverts in our society.
“A day has therefore been designated as the Safeguarding and Child Protection Day, where children are engaged via an interactive workshop to combat the growing trend of sexual abuse of children.
“This would be an avenue to engage children drawn from both public and private schools on their rights and responsibilities.
“This program would be led by trained Peer educators, who have experience in gender relations, socialization, and sexual violence prevention.
“Asides from verbally engaging students on their rights and responsibilities, children would be equipped with relevant materials, textbooks and posters which can be displayed conspicuously in the school premises,” Onigbanjo said.
Meanwhile, the following categories of persons or teams would be recognized and appreciated: Most Responsive Family Support Unit (FSU), Police Division Best Family Social Services (FSS) Unit, Most supportive Donor agency, Most Responsive Health Facility
Best Non-Governmental Organisation for Domestic Violence Best Non-Governmental Organization for Sexual Violence, A Mandated Reporter
Special Recognition, among others.