By Demola Akinyemi, Ilorin

In order to ensure speedy dispensation of justice and also deter perpetrators of Gender-Based Violence (GBV), in Nigeria, an NGO, Rising Child Foundation has called on the judiciary arm of government to prioritise the prosecution of perpetrators by creating a Special court.

The Executive Director, of the foundation, Mrs Taibat Hussein made the call in Ilorin, Kwara state capital on Wednesday during a  press conference to herald the launching of the Kwara Gender-Based Violence(GBV) project in the state.

Mrs Hussein expressed concern that over the years, victims of GBV get little or no justice as several of the perpetrators escapes the long arm of law.

“At present, there is a low conviction rate for GBV in Nigeria and this sadly contributes to emboldening perpetrators to continue to perpetuate these heinous crimes against women and girls.

” For instance, Nigeria’s Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development recently disclosed that out of the over 5100 cases of GBV currently in court, only a paltry 16 convictions have been secured.

“There is therefore a need for our judiciary to prioritize the prosecution of perpetrators of GBV. In this regard, Special Courts can be created to entertain GBV cases to ensure swift dispensation of justice. “She said.

Mrs Hussein added that despite several interventions and advocacy of government institutions and civil society groups to draw attention to the cases of GBV in Nigeria and Kwara in particular,” the cases keep growing, and what is more worrisome and saddening is the fact many of the perpetrators go unpunished.”

She also called on Security agencies to handle GBV cases professionally without shaming the victims, adding,: Similarly, parents should desist from preventing their abused children from speaking up under the guise of shame.”

According to her, “Cases of gender-based violence abound in every part of the country.

 “In fact, due to the prevalence of violence against women and girls in Nigeria, the Federal Government was in 2020, forced by activists, to declare a state of emergency on GBV and was after a series of cases of violence against women sparked protests on and offline”. 
 
She said, “Almost every day, we read or hear stories of victims and survivors of GBV in the media.

“From the case of Barakat Bello, a 19-year-old girl who was gang-raped and murdered in Ibadan, Oyo State, Uwa Omozuwa who was raped inside a church in Benin, Edo State and subsequently died as a result of the brutal attack, to Hiny Umoren, a 26-year-old job-seeking lady who was murdered by a man who had invited her for a job interview in Uyo, Akwa-Ibom.

“Also,  recently, the Nigerian media space was awash with news of the death of a popular gospel singer, Osinachi, who reportedly died after enduring a series of physical assaults from her husband”..  
 
Mrs Hussein added that “As part of the project of the foundation, we shall organise a broad-based training for 25 selected young ladies that will be regarded as GBV Champions.

 “They will be educated on GBV and its implications on the society, trained on how to use social media – majorly Twitter – to advocate GBV-related issues, and what they can do to curb the spread of GBV in their respective communities. 
 
“At the end of the training, we will create a Kwara Gender Action Group that will comprise participants at the training. 

“The group will work in local communities across Kwara to create awareness on GBV issues, track and report cases of violent abuse against women, and advocate for redress for victims and punishment for the offenders.

 “Our GBV champions will also carry out sustained awareness on GBV across senior secondary schools in Kwara State while creating a pipeline for safe reportage of GBV cases.
 
“In addition, we will embark on the market drive, organise radio shows, reach out to the community and religious leaders and other relevant stakeholders to create awareness on GBV and seek their support and cooperation towards the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls. 
 
“To ensure the success of this project, we are humbly soliciting the support of the State and other relevant bodies. We are also open to collaboration with other civil society groups working on GBV issues in Kwara.”

She noted that ending Gender-based violence in Kwara and Nigeria at large, requires collective efforts, stressing that,”As an individual, do not perpetuate or condone any form of gender-based violence. We should also stop stigmatizing victims of GBV and rather encourage them to speak up and not suffer or die in silence.”

Vanguard News Nigeria

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