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Women group charge Ogun govt to protect sexual harassment victim

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Dapo Abiodun

…Investigate claims against commissioner
Feminist Womanifesto, a collective of more than 500 women organisations and individuals working across Nigeria to attain gender justice, has charged the Ogun State Government to give full protection to Ms. Barakat Melojuekun, who was sexually assaulted by the state’s commissioner for environment, Mr. Abiodun Abudu-Balogun.

In a statement signed by the Executive Director, Women Advocates Research and Documentation centre (WARDC), Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi on behalf of the group, they demand physical and psychological support for the victim to overcome the trauma, proper punishment meted out on Abudu-Balogun if found guilty of the allegations and legal action be taken against him for the offence of sexual harassment, intimidation and coercion.

“It is bewildering, to say the least, that a Commissioner in the same Government that had taken novel and unprecedented steps in 2020 against Gender-Based Violence by inaugurating a Gender Based Violence Prohibition Committee to respond appropriately to any infraction of the law, as statutorily required by the Violence Against Women Prohibition Law of Ogun State, 2018.

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“In furtherance of its commitment, the State Government adopted a Sex Offenders’ Register to record and publish names of sex offenders. Mr. Abudu-Balogun’s despicable act, therefore, is a textbook case of persistent disregard of the law by public officer holders who have sworn allegiance to the law. We commend the State Government’s swift response to the matter by way of suspending the Commissioner.”

The group noted that the State Government therefore, should give credence to its zero-tolerance commitment to sexual violence by handling these allegations against its Commissioner appropriately as this will send a clear message that no one is above the law and serve as a deterrent to potential defaulters no matter how highly placed, while at the same time, encouraging other victims to report incidents of sexual abuse.

She however demand the government puts stronger mechanisms in place to proactively protect girls and women from intimidation and public harassment from sexual predators.

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