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Support one another to end domestic violence, sexual abuse, NGO urges women

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Josephine Effah-Chukwuma (middle), flanked by Oluwakemi Bello of the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) and other stakeholders, including the community women association from Agege and Ikosi at the one-day roundtable stakeholders meeting held in Lagos…recently

Poor financial standing, fear of what will happen to the children and the unknown, unwillingness to send their husbands to jail, societal and religious pressure as well as hunger, are just a few of the reasons abused women stay silent and endure violence and other forms of abuse in relationships, as against reporting to the appropriate authorities.

This much was revealed at a recent one-day round-table discussion on the Domestic Violence Law of Lagos State organised for community women’s associations by Project Alert.

Guest speaker, Oluwakemi Bello of the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT), informed the women leaders drawn largely from the Agege and Ikosi areas of Lagos State that the department was established to expose and fight everything that constitutes violence against women and girls as well as protect them and give them a voice.

She informed that the law against domestic violence is very strong in Lagos and, though needing a few tweaks, is still capable of fighting adequately for survivors. At the moment, she said the department works directly with the governor to provide holistic response to issues of rape, domestic violence and child abuse, urging the women leaders to intimate their members and women they know to take advantage of it.

In the event of silence by the victim, Bello disclosed that everybody is a mandatory reporter, adding that the department’s slogan is, “When you see something, say something.”

The three-part discussion dealt with, “Understanding Domestic Violence: Myths and Facts,” presented by Nsini Udonta; the second part handled by Olubukola Olowoyo explained the Domestic Violence Law in Yoruba and simplified English, while the third part explained the role of police as well as its commitment and accessibility to the people.

Narrating some of the issues faced when trying to get justice for survivors, the policewoman decried the fact that money usually changes hands or the victim is silenced, frustrating their efforts. Speaking to the captive audience, she acknowledged that seeking justice especially in cases of rape and assault could be expensive, never-ending and cumbersome, deterring many indigents, but she urged them not to be discouraged as many people were ready to help in any way possible.

She pleaded with religious leaders to stop doing the work of social workers as they were not trained, whilst urging them to stop pressuring victims to drop cases and shielding abusers.

Speaking, Executive Director, Project Alert, Josephine Effah-Chukwuma, said the gathering was to appraise the women with the Domestic Violence Law, to enable them deal with the increasingly “epidemic” situation and show them how and where to get help, if not for themselves but for other affected women.


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