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Lagos releases 250 children in two years

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Olubukola Oyenike Salami, Director of ‘Office of the Public Defender’ (OPD), Lagos State Ministry of Justice

Lagos State Government has said between January and September 2017, a total of 140 cases of domestic violence and sexual assault has been handled stating that it has also freed 250 children in conflict with law in the last two years.

Out of all these cases recorded, the state government revealed that children between ages two to 16 years are being affected, which a lot of times victims are being abused by acquaintances.

Director, Office of the Public Defender (OPD), Lagos State Ministry of Justice, Salami Olubukola, disclosed this at a symposium on sexual violence and launch of a platform, ‘Salvus’, organised by Hacey Health Initiative in Lagos.

Salvus is a web-based platform developed to facilitate safe and confidential reporting of sexual violence incidents giving access to comprehensive support service and relevant information to victims.

Olubukola said for the past two years there has been a project handed over to OPD by United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the mandate was to get released children that are in conflict with the law. Children that have committed one offense or the other that are remanded in the police station, prison and correctional homes.

“As I speak my office with the assistance of UNICEF, have been able to release 250 children in the past two years. Rape and defilement has always been in our society but the challenge we have always had is reporting, people have not been speaking about it,” she said.

She added that with the course of organisations on advocacy and report unit that government have put into place, people are now speaking about it, reporting it, people now want justice, saying “I believe that it is because of the advocacy that the crime is on the increase. It has always been there just that people have not been talking about it.”

According to her, one of the reasons why we are not able to scale through prosecution cases is because of societal stigma. The legal aspect is what my office does essentially to ensure that justice is done because most of the time, people have an apathy when it comes to crime.

In her remarks, Director, Gender Development Program, Hacey Health Initiative, Ms. Rhoda Rhobinson, said sexual violence is a broad issue in our society that needs all hands to be on deck in order to be called to order.

She said the vision Salvus is a dream come true, considering the unending brainstorming sessions as well as burning urge to make our country a safer and better place for all and sundry.

Rhobinson said its organization condemns all forms of sexual violence in conflict as grave violations of human and peoples’ rights, urging government to improve justice systems to help end rape and sexual violence in the society.

Director, Social Welfare, Ministry of Youth and Social Development, Lagos State, Laide Latinwo, said there is need for more education on sexual violence, sensitisation and awareness. Proper parenting needs to be revisited, stating that abuse is diverse.

“Our cultural values have all been eroded, we have imbibed somebody else’s culture, which has eroded ours. Those are the things we need to look out for, speaking out is key,” she said.


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OPDSalami OlubukolaUNICEF

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