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UNICEF, experts move to identify gaps in sexual violence cases

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United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), justice stakeholders and health providers have moved to identify gaps hindering prosecution of cases of sexual violence against women and children.

They disclosed this at a two-day workshop on engagement with health and justice service providers for improved violence against women and girls, as well as violence against children (prevention and response) service delivery for Cross River and Ebonyi states.

At the workshop, which held in Enugu, issues bordering on rising sexual violence against children, provision of medical services, prosecution, mandatory policies and investigation activities, among others, were discussed.

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During the interactive season, the stakeholders agreed that for survivors of sexual violence to receive quality health and justice services, improved capacity of duty bearers should be attained.

A resource person, Justice Elias Abua said there were challenges in the prosecution of cases involving women and children, because the duty bearers were not always knowledgeable about the essentials to focus on during investigations.

He said in view of this, most offenders had escaped punishment due to inappropriate investigation and insufficient evidence in court to identify crimes alleged to have been committed.

Abua said if the training was driven down to other stakeholders in the justice sector, it would pave way for easier prosecution of cases of violence against women and girls in court.

“So many offenders have escaped punishment because of inappropriate investigation and insufficient evidence in court. This training workshop has enlightened stakeholders in the justice sector. We have striven to highlight the flaws we observed in police and medical reports tendered in court,” he stated.

Speaking, the chairman, Child Protection Network in Cross River State, James Ibor, disclosed that a lot of people do not have firsthand information on violence against women and girls, so they tend to make mistakes in carrying out appropriate investigations that would help such cases win in court.

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Ibor, who is also Principal Council, Basic Right Council Initiative, said training and retraining of duty bearers with required information to amend new evidences should be constant.

“One of the things we have also achieved is improving synergy among practitioners including doctors, police officers, judges and magistrates, they have been interacting and mingling, so anytime they have challenges of difficult cases, they can easily reach out to other professionals to improve they service provided for children,” Ibor noted.

On his part, the UNICEF Child Protection Specialist, Victor Atuchukwu, said the justice providers were key players in providing response services to survivors, especially on sexual violence.

“We noticed that sometimes there are gaps in understanding of the duty bearers on their interventions for the survivors of violence in the health sector, law enforcement and prosecution, which must have common understanding from the point of investigation that survivors get justice for the violence they had suffered,” he said.

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Sexual violenceUNICEF
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