Lagos engages Religious Leaders On Sexual and Gender Based Violence 

The Lagos State government through the Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency, DSVA, has engaged about 200 Religious Leaders on SGBV as well as the role of religious clerics in preventing and responding to the vicious menace.  With her presentation on the relevant laws on Domestic and Sexual Violence in Lagos State, the Executive Secretary DSVA, Mrs Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi opened the day’s discussion with the consideration of the Protection Against Domestic Violence Law, 2015, the Criminal law of lagos state, 2015 ( as amended)  as well as the Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency Law, 2021.  She explained that the invited participants were made to comb through the laws, in order to learn the intricacies of the document and to know that one of the major aims of the Domestic Violence law is to prevent domestic violence from happening and that can  be achieved through a restraining order granted by the court.   “The truth is that sexual and Gender-Based Violence is not a respecter of age, class, grade or religion. Indeed, anybody can perpetrate it and anyone can also become a victim, so it is important to engage religious leaders from this perspective.” “We know sometimes you serve as first responders whenever issues of Gender-Based violence are reported. it is therefore important for us to let you know the relevant laws that exist and support services available that your congregation can take advantage of anytime the need arises.” Vivour-Adeniyi added that there are 22 specialised police stations in the state that can be reached on issues of Domestic and Gender-Based Violence, while informing the participants that the High courts and Magistrate courts that have criminal jurisdiction are the appropriate courts that can grant a restraining/ protection Order against an abusive partner / spouse She took the participants through the different sexual Offences related sections in the criminal law,  including section 261 which is on sexual assault by penetration.and 137 which is about unlawful sexual intercourse with a child that attracts life imprisonment without option of finesamong others. According to her “We have Protection Against Domestic Violence law 2015 as amended, that law basically seeks to prevent reoccurrence of violence by encouraging survivors to approach the court and obtain what is called protection or restraining order. We also have the Criminal Law of Lagos state which is to regulate criminal conduct. (IS THIS STILL NECESSARY?))) The Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency Law 2021 which introduced some new provisions like child pornography,  sex for grades, frustrating investigation, concealment of an offence were also considered. It is our hope that this engagement will further broaden the knowledge for participants to assert their roles on how to make a case for survivors as well as make necessary referral to relevant responder agencies and seek justice for them. The Presiding Chaplain, Chapel of Christ Delight Lagos State, Rev Dr Oladele Ajayi said that the church has been and would continue to be at the fore front to ensure several marriages that are on the verge of collapsing are restored. He said “The reality is that we have this problem around and as a pastor we have seen so many issues on domestic violence, either complaints by a wife or husband it could be emotional financial or physical abuse at some point we have to engage to the level of separation. We must continue to inform them about the laws of the land as well as the punishments that can be meted out against  anyone that perpetrates any form of abuse and people should desist form stigmatising those that have come out to speak of being abused.” The Chief Missioner Nasirullahi-li-Fathi society NASFAT, Imam Abdul Azeez Onike, said Islam preaches peace and tranquil ambience between couples and frowns at any act that can jeopardize peaceful coexistence among the people. Onike said many islamic organisations including NASFAT have been working with numerous NGOs to enlighten and advance the campaign against any form of Gender-Based violence, and prevent anything that can breed peaceful homes. He appreciated the state government for taking up the initiative that will improve family ties and bring about a perfect society that devoid of rancour, enmity and ensure sanity among the citizenry.  A continuous call for sensitization by the government and stakeholders was made as the participants advocated for an end to Domestic and Sexual Violence and also enjoined victims and survivors to break the culture of silence and escalate the case to the appropriate quarters in order to access justice.  Adejoke Ladenegan-Oginni Head, Public Affairs Unit LAGOS DSVA 8/2/2024

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