BRIEF OF THE HONOURABLE ATTORNEY-GENERAL AND COMMISSIONER FOR JUSTICE/ CHAIRMAN(DSVRT) AT THE MEDIA PARLEY COMMEMORATING THE DOMESTIC & SEXUAL VIOLENCE AWARENESS MONTH, SEPTEMBER, 2017 WITH GOVERNOR’S OFFICE PRESS CORRESPONDENT ON TUESDAY, 5TH SEPTEMBER, 2017
As you may please be aware, the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) provides a coordinated response and creates unprecedented levels of collaboration among professionals working to end Sexual and Gender Based Violence in the State.
The DSVRT provides an essential avenue for victims and third parties to report instances of domestic, child and sexual abuse. DSVRT adopts a three-pronged approach to address these issues:
- Ensuring the quick dispensation of justice
- Facilitating the provision of medical services
- Continual Awareness & Sensitisation
Between January 2017 till date, the Team has handled 852 This is in stark contrast to the total number of cases handled last year which was 450. This year, we have handled 564 Domestic Violence cases, 60 defilement cases, 30 Rape cases, 11 Attempted Rape, 123 Child Neglect and Child abuse cases and 84 other cases. We have started to see on average 100 new cases monthly.
- The trends from the data disclose an increase in men coming forward to report cases of Domestic Violence. This year a total of 55 men came forward to report. This is in contrast to 14 men that reported last year.
- Furthermore, the data revealed that most of sexual assault cases were perpetrated in the afternoons, during the weekday. The data also discloses that 95% of perpetrators of Sexual Violence are known to the victims. This has necessitated the need to embark on sensitisation campaigns for parents on parenting skills and child abuse prevention tips as well as trainings for children on Child’s Rights, Child Abuse, safety and how to preserve evidence.
- Under the year of review, we have witnessed an increase in reporting from Agege, Ikorodu and Oshodi.
- We have also witnessed an increase in reporting of cases, via telephone and walk ins from other States, mostly from Ogun Osun and the eastern part of the country.
- The Lagos Public Interest Law Partnership, Office of the Public Defender and the Directorate of Citizens’ Rights provided free legal assistance to majority of survivors of the domestic violence/sexual assault cases, ranging from judicial separation, divorce, custody of children, mediation and settlement. 250 of the cases were reported to the Police, whilst the Directorate of Citizens’ Rights and Office of the Public Defender facilitated the execution of Memorandum of Undertaking in 350 of those cases.
- The Directorate of Public Prosecutions is also ensuring diligent prosecution of these cases in court. All the Sexual assault cases are currently in court , whilst 10 of the Domestic Violence cases are currently being prosecuted.
- As regards provision of shelter for victims, the Ministry of Youth & Social Development, as well as strategic partner Non Governmental Organisations have played key roles in ensuring survivors were evacuated to a safer environment of shelter homes.
- All the survivors of sexual assault received medical attention from Comprehensive Primary Health Care Centres and referral centres like MIRABEL Centre and WARIF, and so far, 50 of such cases were charged to court.
- DSVRT in conjunction with the Police and the Ministry of Youth and Social Development rescued 30 children who have suffered physical and sexual abuse in the hands of their guardians.
- The Ministry of Youth and Social Development investigated Child abuse cases, ensuring that the affected persons were taken into protective custody.
- The Ministry of Education has helped with creating a direct and swift access to schools and where necessary offending schools have been shut down. So far, 3 of such schools were shut down for failing to provide the necessary care for children in their schools. The Ministry of Health has also assisted in providing free health care for child abuse survivors.
- The media was also instrumental in ensuring that survivors who wanted to share their story were able to do so while protecting their privacy, thereby encouraging others to speak out. This was achieved through constant engagement and expertise training which has resulted in a paradigm shift as regards how these cases are reported, with focus shifting away from the survivor and more towards the perpetrator.
- DSVRT clinical psychologists provided Psychosocial support to 60% of children who have witnessed Intimate Partner Violence, whilst counselling has been offered to 80% of the Domestic Violence survivors.
- Anger management therapy was also offered to Domestic Violence perpetrators who admitted to needing help with managing their emotions.
- DSVRT facilitated the relocation of 5 families (20 persons in total) by paying for rent, school fees and providing necessary empowerment.
DSVRT is currently tracking over 100 sexual assault cases currently being prosecuted by the Directorate of Public Prosecutions.
Lagos State Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General Mr. Adeniji Kazeem during Domestic Violence and Sexual Responds Team media parley, held at The Secretariat, Alausa Ikeja, Lagos.
NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENTS SO FAR-
Under the year of review, DSVRT has obtained 2 convictions, 4 years each for Child Abuse.
As regards Sexual Violence, DSVRT also secured 2 convictions of 14 years and 10 years.
In a case of sexual harassment in the workplace, DSVRT provided the survivor with a lawyer to ensure that she receives her emoluments and damages after she was unlawfully dismissed. DSVRT also ensured that the abusive supervisor in question, who is a foreigner, was investigated and subsequently deported to Lebanon.
RESTRAINING ORDERS/ ABDUCTION OF CHILDREN BY ABUSIVE PARENTS
DSVRT has obtained 15 Restraining Orders against abusive spouses, including the notable case of the popular actress, Mercy Aigbe Gentry. DSVRT also facilitated the return of 22 children, from 6 different families who were forcefully taken away from their Lagos State residences by their abusive fathers.
MENTAL HEALTH CASES
DSVRT has handled 7 cases of mental health challenge as a result of the Domestic Violence. So far, one of the survivors, after being cleared by the psychiatrist, could be reunited with her 3 children.
DOMESTIC AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE AWARENESS MONTH, SEPTEMBER, 2017
It would be recalled that for the past 2 years, DSVRT has commemorated the Domestic and Sexual Violence Awareness Month, which has traditionally been in the month of September. It would be recalled that last year, we promoted positive masculinity by ensuring men stood up as flag bearers. This was done through the All Male Walk led by His Excellency, a Symposium on the Role of Men in preventing SGBV. The climax of the month was the Commendation Dinner hosted by His Excellency.
By virtue of all these activities, we saw an increase in reporting of these cases, improved handling of these cases by relevant law enforcement agencies and the commendation went a long way in encouraging and spurring responder agencies and corporate organisations to yet do more. This year should not be an exception.
The theme of this year’s proposed activities is “Institutionalising reforms”. This is based on the compelling need to ensure that all the interventions made are institutionalised and systems are in place to ensure that the State’s response to Sexual and Gender Based Violence is well structured and service delivery is fully optimal.
The below are the proposed activities set out for the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Awareness Month in September, 2017
Launch of Resource Book
Under His Excellency’s administration, the interventions of DSVRT are gradually breaking the silence around issues of Sexual & Gender Based Violence in Lagos State. There is a growing confidence urging people to speak out more, there is an astronomical increase in reporting of cases in the media. Lagos State has indeed revolutionized the way Sexual & Gender Based Violence is being tackled in Nigeria, with all the pioneering initiatives that Your Excellency has empowered DSVRT to implement. The legacy has been set in Lagos State, and the pursuit for excellence will continue.
The need to therefore share our experiences and success therefore birthed the idea of a book, which would encapsulate the way Lagos State has handled the scourge of Sexual & Gender Based Violence.
This is especially compelling at this time, as we have been witnessing an influx of neighbouring residents from States like Ogun and Oyo into Lagos for succour and relief.
His Excellency is set to launch the resource book on the 18th of September, 2017.
Launch of the 6820 SMS/ USSD Short code
In a bid to ensure that every resident of Lagos State is able to receive prompt response, DSVRT has obtained approval from the Nigerian Communications Commission to have a short code for reporting Sexual Abuse, Child Abuse, Domestic Violence in the State.
This would be achieved by members of the public using keywords – i.e., child abuse to 6820 or *6820# and an interactive menu browser to get the relevant information from such users such as name, location, specific case or complaint which would in turn ensure that the whole response team is automatically activated.
By dialling *6820# or sending an sms to 6820 with a keyword e.g. child abuse, users will be fed information on steps to take for the respective case (rape, child abuse, domestic violence). A report would also be logged and forwarded to the appropriate law enforcement, Agency or Ministry. The aim of this innovation is to ensure that survivors of all forms of abuse would be able to reach out to the appropriate agencies and receive timely information about what to do, but most importantly, where to go to receive assistance.
Consequently, anybody that needs to report a case of Child Abuse, rape or Domestic Violence or requires a child or a woman to be rescued can make use of this platform and should receive timely and accurate information.
Asides from the immediate response this technology solution would provide victims with, activating 6820 would also assist in gathering and collating incident information, generate heat-maps within the metropolis, provide automated daily & monthly reporting, provide comprehensive central database/ information system and analytics and provide central information that can also be used for formulation of prevalence and prevention policies for Lagos State.
We would be witnessing history in the making in Nigeria; using technology to successfully empower citizens in the fight against Gender Based Violence, the first of its kind in Nigeria.
MARKET RALLIES AND ROAD SHOWS
We would take advantage of the our on going 6 months campaign by having market rallies and road shows at Agege, Katangawa, Aswani & Abule Egba and Badagry.
COMMENDATION NIGHT/ LAUNCH OF DOMESTIC AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE FUND
As is our custom, we would be having a Commendation night / Dinner to celebrate officers and individuals who have distinguished themselves in the fight against Sexual and Gender Based Violence.
Similar to last year, certain deserving individuals, and private institutions would be commended by His Excellency in recognition of their outstanding commitment in the fight against SGBV.
His Excellency the Governor of Lagos State has also approved the establishment of the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Fund. The Fund is to amongst other things, provide empowerment designed specifically for survivors of Domestic Violence. This would compliment the current empowerment programs coordinated by the Ministry of Women Affairs. The fund would also provide immediate financial assistance to high risk victims during their quest for justice either by providing transportation, provide empowerment tailored towards relocation or any other form of financial allowance where necessary.
The fund would also be to implement support strategies to increase the capacity of responder agencies.
We use this opportunity to thank His Excellency, the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode for believing in us. His confidence and support has propelled the Team to do more. We are also grateful to all officers of the various Responder Agencies, who on a daily basis, go beyond their call of duty in ensuring that the most vulnerable in our society are protected and their rights are adequately safeguarded.
We use this medium to appreciate the media immensely. Through your partnership, we can say we have made considerable progress. We hope to achieve much more with your continuous support.
I thank you all for listening.
Adeniji Kazeem, Esq.
Hon. Attorney-General and
Commissioner for Justice