By Elias Adagunduro
The National Human Rights Commission Special investigation panel on Sexual and Gender Based Violence in Nigeria (SGBV) has deepened its campaign against sexual and gender-based violence in the South West.
The Executive Secretary of the Commission, Tony Ojukwu, who was one of the panelists at a seminar organised in Lagos by the Commission, told AN24.net that sexual and gender based violence cases were usually under reported.
“This is a panel on sexual and gender based violence which was set up by National Human Rights Commission. The cases are becoming more endemic in the society. Every day, you hear attacks on young girls, helpless women, exploitation of school children, exploitation of people in authorities in the churches, and in work places so the scourge is becoming so worrisome.
“Also task forces which are set up by various government agencies arrest women and violate their rights in terms of perpetrating sexual and gender violence on them during their period of detention. We think that this cannot continue. We decided to set up this panel to hear people who have complaints, to encourage them to come and speak up because we noticed that part of why people don’t talk is because they feel that nothing is happening or nobody would deal with their cases or bring justice to them.
“We are extending our hands of fellowship to them to encourage them that they will not be victimized because we are hearing their complaints in privacy, so that they will not be stigmatized and we are seeing how we can bring closure and justice to them. That is the essence of the panel and also to review laws and regulations concerning sexual and gender based violence”.
“Also to design guidelines for schools and various aspects of society so that people can know how to do the right things”.
“We intend to sustain this campaign throughout all the geopolitical zones in the country. We have been in Abuja, we are now in the South West. We are going to other parts of the country to repeat the same thing,” he said.
One of the participants, Dr Omolola Omotoso, a public affairs analyst who represented Cares Global Network interacted with AN24.net .
“ I am here for two reasons; to represent my organisation, plus I am also here as a petitioner and a complainer. My petition is about a widow abused. Often times, when people are talking about sexual and gender based violence, they leave out the widows.
“Widows have suffered a lot of conspiracy of silence because nobody wants to talk about it. Even journalists now run away from widows’ stories. They don’t want to get libel law suits. So my concern is ‘where do widows go?’ What we are experiencing is a lot of widow abuse. This is 2019, widows are still being forced to drink water from their husbands’ corpses, they are still being forced to sleep with their husbands’ brothers or fathers as sexual cleansing”.
“They are still being forced to walk naked or shave their head. How do widows get justice? Unfortunately, institutions that are meant to help widows are not helping. You go to lawyers, they are out of work, except you are ready to pay them heavily and a lot of widows don’t have that kind of money. You go to the police, they request for money. The institutions that are meant to help are not helping.“