From Winifred Bosa, Lagos
THE Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence awareness month with the theme: “It is on Us”, was flagged off with media briefing at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre by the Commissioner and Attorney-General for Justice, Moyosore Jubril Onigbanjo (SAN) as part of activities to commemorate the annual event.
Mr. Onigbanjo said the Y2022 theme was specifically selected based on the compelling need to ensure that residents of Lagos State realise that ending the menace of Sexual gender-based violence is indeed a collective effort that requires the support and collaboration of all members of society.
He explained that the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team, which metamorphosed into the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency (DSVA) in September 2021, was established to guarantee and protect the rights of survivors of domestic and sexual violence in the State.
The agency, according to him, provides an opportunity for survivors and third parties to report cases of domestic and sexual violence in Lagos and tackle them swiftly in collaboration with relevant MDAs, partner Agencies, Gender-Based Violence Case Managers, the Police, NGOs, Psychologists, Rescue Team, Social Welfare, Healthcare workers and the Judiciary.
He noted that since its inception, the agency has so far received a total of 4860 cases via the Virtual Referral and Response Service (VRRS) and physical reports which include domestic violence, rape, lack of parental care, a threat to life, sexual assault by penetration, emotional abuse, child neglect/abandonment, child labour, sexual molestation and none GBV cases perpetrated against adults and children.
Also speaking, the Executive Secretary of DSVA, Mrs. Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi, intimated the audience of the agency’s various initiatives, stressing that the state government is determined to drastically reduce the menace because of its zero tolerance for sexual and gender-based violence in the state.
While informing that the agency receives a minimum of 200 complaints on issues relating to sexual and GBV monthly, the executive secretary disclosed that the agency has also witnessed an increase in reporting of cases from other states including Ogun, Abia and Anambra, among others.
Her words: “In the past 11 months, a total of 394 cases occurred outside Lagos. Such cases were promptly referred to the relevant agencies in their respective states. The Office of the Public Defender and the Lagos Public Interest Law Partnership (LPILP) has provided free legal representation to 110 survivors of domestic violence on matters ranging from judicial separation, divorce, maintenance, custody of children and settlement”.
“All the survivors of sexual assault also receive free medical attention from Lagos State Primary Healthcare Centres, General Hospitals and Sexual Assault Referral Centres like Mirabel Centre, Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF) as well as Idera Centre”, she added.
Vivour-Adeniyi also submitted that a recent study of the 20 local government areas in Lagos State showed that the top five LGAs with the highest cases of sexual violence involving adults are Alimosho, Ikorodu, Kosofe, Eti-Osa and Oshodi-Isolo, while the LGAs with top five with the highest cases involving children are from Alimosho, Kosofe, Oshodi-Isolo, Ikorodu and Ifako-Ijaiye Local Government Areas.
She noted that these findings had necessitated the agency’s collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government and Community Affairs on introducing compulsory pre-marital preparatory counselling for intending couples to tackle the issues of domestic violence before marriage, adding that a curriculum has also been developed for such couples.
The executive secretary, therefore, urged the media to partner with the agency to achieve considerable progress to rid society of the menace, appealing to the public to call the toll-free number: 08000333333, whenever there is a case of domestic and sexual violence or abuse in any form in their neighbourhood.