The wife of Ondo State Governor, Arabinrin Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, has enjoined stakeholders, particularly the medical practitioners who are usually the first point of call in the event of Sexual and Gender violations, to rise to the fight to completely rid the state of the menace.
Mrs Akeredolu said this during a one-day Capacity Strengthening Workshop for Stakeholders on Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Law, organised by the Office of the Wife of Governor of Ondo State in collaboration with the Westminster Foundation For Democracy (WFD).
At the workshop whose aim is to build the capacity of stakeholders across the 18 local government areas in Ondo State, Mrs Akeredolu who was represented by the wife of Ondo State Deputy Governor, Mrs Esther Oluwaseun Aiyedatiwa, called for more actions towards implementing the laws to protect the womenfolk.
While giving her Keynote address, Mrs Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu expressed worry over the rate of sexual and gender-based violations, where one in every three girls is likely to be married as a child-wife, noting that “Millions of women are trapped in modern-day slavery and rape is used as war tactics.”
At the event held at Heritage Continental Hotel, Akure, Ondo State Capital, Her Excellency said such human rights violations pose a serious threat to the nation
According to her, about 160 countries have laws enacted against SGBV, but in too many cases, enforcement is lacking.
She explained some of the initiatives of the wife of the governor of Ondo state to curb SGBV.
She further urged them to put into action all that they had learnt to stop the menace in the state.
“We have also created an agency – Ondo State Agency Against Gender-Based Violence(OSAA- GBV) with a toll-free number – 08000078677273”, she added, saying the state will soon unveil a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) for survivors of SGBV.
In her goodwill message, Mrs Sola Afolayan, the programme manager of WFD, said the International organisation is interested in supporting women, girls and other vulnerable groups to help them access justice and supports, while noting that Ondo State was identified to benefit in the 2nd phase of the programme.
She told participants the importance of training them as health workers are the first point of contact with victims, they must be aware that their response determines a lot in the line of taking decision by the family of the victims
While noting that issues of gender-based violence are accurate and that a lot of people do not speak up because of stigmatisation, urged the participants to go back to their various communities and take the fight seriously to win the war against GBV.
Also giving his goodwill message, the Permanent Secretary, Ondo State Primary Healthcare Board, Dr Francis Akanbiemu, while appreciating Mrs Akeredolu for being a pacesetter against vices in Ondo State, highlighted some of the severe impacts of gender-based violence.
He also urged the participants to take the training seriously and be change agents saying the government has already put in place standard guidelines that will ensure confidentiality of patients, among others.
Member of WFD, Mrs Edidiong Idang, while lauding Mrs Akeredolu for being at the forefront of SGBV said the team was attracted to Ondo State because it saw that the State had put structures in place with the setting up of OSAA- GBV with lots of efforts on the ground by Mrs Akeredolu.
On some of the engagements they have had in the state, Mrs Idang said her team had earlier met with the Speaker of the Ondo State House of Assembly on effective oversight of VAPP law and a gender-sensitive budget in the coming year, as well as engagement with medical professionals who are the first point of call.
While commending Mrs Akeredolu for the idea of initiating satellite SARC across communities, Mrs Idang said it is a new concept in Nigeria.
The training is coming few days after the WFD team arrived in Ondo State to provide week-long advocacy and support to stakeholders led by its country’s representative, Mr Adebowale Olorunmola, an Initiative funded by the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office of the UK.
The group had earlier in the week paid a courtesy call to the Wife of the Deputy Governor and the Ondo State House of Assembly.
Giving an overview of the OSAA-GBV Strategy on the implementation of the VAPP law in Ondo State, the representative of OSAA-GBV, Mrs Yemi Faboyo Agbede, highlighted the provisions in VAPP law, saying it is now easy to address cases of rape, spousal abandonment and gender violence among others as there are now penalties that come with these crimes.
Mrs Agbede said once there is a report on the toll-free line, OSAA-GBV swings into action while also ensuring the victim’s safety in collaboration with other agencies and that with the establishment of SARC Satellites in all LGAs, medical reports as evidence will be quickly processed for prosecution purpose.
Earlier in her remarks, SSA Gender, Research & Documentation, Mrs Temitope Daniyan, while noting that the workshop is a rare privilege brought into the state by the WDF team to strengthen the health sector, acknowledged that the laudable strides of Mrs Akeredolu made it all possible.
Mrs Daniyan also used the opportunity to urge the health workers to make the most effective use of the training.
Other major highlights include a presentation by Mrs Eno Ede on SARC, which explored VAPP Implementation Mechanism, Clinical Case Management Procedures among others and an overview of the Violence Against Person Prohibition (VAPP) Law in Ondo State by Mrs Edidiong Idang, and presentation of the yellow card to the Office of the wife of Governor.