Wives of Nigerian Governors rising from a meeting have vowed to resist all kinds of assault on women promising to support all survivors of sexual and domestic violence.
The Governors’ wives thus called on the Inspector General of Police to immediately direct the Nigerian Police to treat rape and defilement cases with the speed and seriousness such cases deserve, in order to ensure justice for victims.
In an open letter to President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Assembly and signed by Wife of Chairman, Nigerian Governors Forum, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, Chair, Northern Governors Wives Forum, Dr Amina Abubakar and Chair, Southern Governors Wives Forum Mrs Betsy Obaseki, the women noted with dismay the intense level of assaults on women and vowed to resist its continued perpetuation.
The Governors wives stated in the letter that they align with the position of the first Lady, Dr Aisha Buhari who recently called for action to be taken on the increasing rate of assaults on women and rate at which children are being sexually abused in Nigeria.
The women equally expressed displeasure at the alarming level of rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment and murder of women and children and called for concerted effort to stem the evil that has permeated the fabrics of the society.
“It is also worrisome that women and children with special needs have also become targets of sexual violence.
“We note with concern that in spite of the existence of laws at the federal level such as the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act of 2015 as well as legislation at State level to protect the well-being of women and children, perpetrators continue their despicable acts with impunity.
“On the rare occasions when incidences of rape are reported, victims are intimidated and shamed into silence”, the governors’ wives lamented.
They therefore appealed to the National Assembly, Governors and State Houses of Assembly to facilitate the passage of laws to protect women and children against all forms of assaults and abuse.
“Where legislation already exists, we call for political will in the enforcement and implementation of such laws. In this regard, urgent medical attention, shelter, counselling and other support mechanisms for survivors are important”, the women stated.
They equally requested that the need for the Police to be tactful and supportive in the handling of alleged sexual offences and take measures to prevent the intimidation of victims by families and associates of suspects.
The women equally demanded for the commissioning of Rape and Sexual Offences desks in Police Stations across the country where they do not exist, and that appropriately trained personnel are designated to provide timely support for victims.
They also requested that the Attorney General of the Federation and State Attorney Generals fast track cases of rape and defilement.
“We also urge the setting up of Special Offences Courts for rape and defilement cases, and for such cases to be charged to the courts and heard without undue delays”. the letter read in part.
The Governors’ wives also urged that the Minister of Health ensures that all medical facilities across the country are equipped with timely, sensitive and comprehensive medical services to victims of sexual violence particularly, Rape Kits and Post- Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) to prevent rape victims from contracting HIV.
They Pleaded with all political, religious and community leaders to speak up against all forms of assaults of women and children.
They also enjoined civil society organisations and women’s support groups to continue to advocate on behalf of victims as well as provide all relevant services as well as the public to address this issue by supporting victims to get justice and breaking the culture of silence and stigma which prevents victims from coming forward.
The letter was copied to the first Lady, Chief Justice of Nigeria, Inspector General of Police Abubakar Mohammed Adamu, Inspector General of Police, Chairman, Nigerian Governors Forum, Dr Kayode Fayemi, Secretary to the Federal Government, Honourable Boss Mustapha, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Mr Dayo Apata and the Solicitor General of Nigeria.