… As WAPA, UNFPA Commemorate 16 Days of Activism

The Lagos State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation (WAPA), Mrs. Cecilia Dada has appealed to the officers of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) to complement the efforts of the State Government towards ending violence against women and girls, saying that the ways and manners which the police handle cases of abuse of women and girls often discourage the survivors from speaking out.

The Commissioner made the plea on Thursday at a Media Parley organized by the Ministry, in Partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Alausa-Ikeja, in commemoration of the 16 days of activism against violence against women and girls.

She averred that the unwillingness to speak out against all forms of abuses by victims, may not be unconnected with the way some Police officials play down reported cases of Gender and Sexual-Based Violence.

Dada said: “I implore Nigerian Police Force to help encourage our women and girls to make reports at Police Stations on all forms of violence suffered. The Police stations should be places of respite and succour, for any victims of violence. Our law enforcement officers should not trivialise these cases or throw them away out of disbelief”.

Speaking on the theme: ‘UNITE! Activism To End Violence Against Women and Girls’, the Commissioner emphasised the need for everyone to play their roles in ending violence against women and girls, show support and solidarity to women’s rights activists and resist the rollback on women’s rights.

She recalled that Lagos State Government and Nigeria as a whole, have been part of the activism since its inception, but their involvement became noticeable in 2018 with the #HearMeToo campaign.

In her words: “Lagos State Government in the year 2019, launched ‘He for She’ Ambassadors where the State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu was decorated as a ‘He for She’ champion”.

“Recently the Ministry, in a bid to stop incessant abuses in tertiary institutions, collaborated with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to work on domestication of Sexual Harassment Policy in all Lagos State tertiary institutions, which will be launched next year 2023 by God’s Grace”, she added.

Dada disclosed that the Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation had 4,351 reported cases of violence between January and November 2022, revealing that 237 females approached the Ministry to report one form of violence or the other in November as against 38 cases reported by men.

These statistics, according to the Commissioner, do not include the figures from the Police and other critical government agencies handling violence and domestic violence-related issues like the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Youth and Social Development and Ministry of Justice, among others.

While underscoring the determination of the State Government to end all forms of abuses against women and girls, Dada disclosed that over 65,000 households had so far benefitted from the different skills acquisition and empowerment initiatives by the Ministry since inception of the present administration.

On her part, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mrs. Oluyemi Kalesanwo informed that the 16 Days of Activism against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence is an annual international campaign which kicks off on 25th day of November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women runs until December 10, which is the global celebration of Human Rights Day.

She expressed gratitude to members of the fourth estate of the realm for being a partner in progress with the Ministry in ending violence against women and girls, just as she sought for their continuous support to achieve a zero violence against women and girls in Lagos State.