… Deepens Advocacy With Students, Engages Govt MDAs
… Visits, DNA & Forensic Centre, Rape Referral Organisations In Lagos
In demonstration of a strong stance against sexual and gender-based violence and with a deepened commitment to advocacy towards eliminating all forms of violence against both genders, the First Lady of Lagos State, Dr. (Mrs.) Claudiana Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu has engaged students, government agencies, and Sexual Assault Referral Centers, (SARC), that support victims of rape cases to drive meaningful change and bring the incidents to the lowest minimum.
The 3-day intensive engagement sessions were held separately on Monday, 4th December, Thursday 7th December, and Friday 8th December 2023 respectively as part of activities put together by the First Lady to commemorate this year’s ongoing 16 days of activism, against Gender-based violence, scheduled to end on Sunday 10th December, 2023, with the theme: “Invest to prevent violence against Women and Girls.”
During these visits and engagements, Dr. Sanwo-Olu
listened to the challenges of the stakeholders, identified solutions, and sought more synergy among all concerned parties in cases of sexual and gender-based violence, just as she also raised awareness about the importance of swift investigations of rape cases to bring justice to survivors and create a safer environment for all.
The wife of the Governor, who organized an interactive School Advocacy Seminar for selected students from 6 Lagos State Secondary School at the Tayo Aderinokun Hall, University of Lagos, Akoka earlier in the week, precisely on Monday, December 4th, 2023, encouraged the students to join the Gender-Based Violence, GBV campaign by participating actively in discussions on issues around Gender Based Violence and proferring possible solutions.
She seized the opportunity of the advocacy event to enlighten the students on how to seek assistance when needed, stressing that no Child or woman should be subjected to the harrowing experience of defilement, rape, and sexual violence crimes.
In her words: “This is my way of investing in our students by equipping them with the necessary knowledge and platforms to speak up against this menace. This is our stand and we must also not encourage a culture of silence. Instead of thinking about the implication of pursuing the case of defilement or rape to a logical conclusion, the interest of the individual that has been abused should come first over and above any other consideration.”
“ The whole intention of exposing these students to this campaign is to elevate the voices of our young persons to join in shaping the future. This event also ensures that no one is left behind as it puts the students at the forefront of the advocacy,” Sanwo-Olu explained.
In the same vein, the First Lady visited Lagos State DNA & Forensic Centre, Lagos Island Maternity, Primary Health Centre at Simpson in Ebute Metta, and two NGOs, Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF), and Mirabel Center, to learn more about their efforts in handling rape cases.
According to her, the visit demonstrates her commitment towards a society free from sexual violence, adding that through the efforts of the relevant government agencies, the Non-Government Organisations, NGOs, and her office, an environment where positive change is inspired and a culture of responsibility fostered is assured.
She said that the visit to the Lagos State DNA & Forensic Centre, which plays a vital role in providing scientific evidence for investigations shows that the Centre still offers skeletal services.
Sanwo-Olu identified the need to re-equip the Centre for maximal operations such that the various evidence and samples collected from relevant Sexual Assault Referral Centers, SARC, for forensic investigations, can be quickly and speedily attended to.
The wife of the Governor who observed the process of the care available for victims of rape cases at Lagos Island Maternity and Primary Health Centre at Simpson in Ebute Metta, acknowledged the importance of the essential medical support services offered to survivors from the medical facilities.
While underscoring her unwavering support for survivors of rape cases and her commitment to ending sexual and gender-based violence during her visit to the Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF) and Mirabel Centre, the First Lady promised to continue to work together with the NGOs to provide comprehensive support and counseling for victims.
The latest in the series of engagements held by the First Lady was an Inter-ministerial stakeholders’ meeting with relevant agencies of government in charge of handling sexual and gender-based violence cases which was initiated by the Governor’s wife.
Some of these agencies include the Ministry of Youth and Social Development, the Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, the Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency, DSVA, the Nigerian Police Force, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, Lagos State Judiciary, the Ministry of Information and Strategy, amongst others.
Addressing the concerned MDAs on Friday in her Office at Lagos House Ikeja, Sanwo-Olu explained that the meeting which is held periodically as a form of feedback mechanism, was aimed at improving the handling of sensitive cases like rape and ensuring justice for survivors.
She said: “This Stakeholders Meeting emphasizes the principle that we cannot work in asylum in our fight against SGBV. As government MDAs, we must all “Unite to invest” in the prevention of SGBV in our society.”
The Governor’s wife noted that the past editions of the Stakeholders meeting with the Ministries, Departments, and Agencies of Government have assisted in harmonizing the efforts of the responders in identifying challenges, proferring solutions, and collaborating for more efficiency and improved service delivery.
She explained that the recent inter-ministerial stakeholders’ meeting, with key agencies responsible for handling sexual and gender-based violence cases, was aimed at improving the handling of these sensitive cases and ensuring justice for survivors.