As many concerned people and organisations continue to raise concern over the rising incidence of rape in the country, the Coordinator of the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team, Mrs. Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi, says efforts of the group have begun to yield fruits.
Among the efforts are radio jingles and special publications the agency is producing and distributing to people, especially students who could be target of the crime.
The team has also co-produced Unspoken Programme, aired on Silverbird Television, showing different facets of the SGBV and support services available.
But the result of an investigation that the team carried out is nullifying the myth about what many people believe to be a major cause of rape and other forms of sexual assault.
Many, for instance, think that ladies or women who dress skimpily provoke men into assaulting them.
According to Vivour-Adeniyi, however, alcoholism, rather than women’s dressing, pushes many offenders into rape.
On the research that the DSVRT conducted among rape offenders, she said, “The result of the research showed that 80.9 per cent of the inmates were abused in their childhood, implying that they had become sexually active at an early age. This illustrates the trend of ‘abused abuser’. Eighty-nine per cent of the inmates are always under the influence of alcohol, while 10.9 per cent were under the influence of hard drugs.
“None of the inmates sampled said they were aroused by what their victim wore. This further debunks the myth that mode of dressing is a ‘reason’ why people rape.”
The DSVRT was set up in September 2014 as a result of the increase in formal and informal reporting of incidents of rape, defilement, domestic violence, child abuse, neglect and maltreatment in the state.
In recent times, there have been more cases of child defilement, including those committed by fathers and some who claim to be men of God.
This has compounded challenges faced by doctors and other health officials who have to attend to victims in emergency situations.
One of the challenges in tackling the menace, according to Vivour-Adeniyi, is that many victims do not speak out. “One of the steps our team has taken is to open a channel on the DSVRT website where victims can lodge their complaints even when they do not want to appear physically.
“This is working as individuals can now report cases online and, most importantly, chat with psychologists who are available to provide psycho- social therapy,” she said.
According to her, the team comprises top-level representatives of agencies such as the Nigeria Police, Directorate of Public Prosecutions, Office of the Public Defender, Directorate for Citizens’ Rights, Mirabel Centre, Ministries of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Health, Education, and Youth and Social Development.
“The DSVRT provides coordinated response and collaboration among professionals working to end gender and sexual-based violence in Lagos State. The response to SGBV menace requires a holistic approach. Consequently, the manner of response is not limited to handling of cases, but rather expands to proposing policies, driving sensitisation and awareness, and ensuring quick dispensation of justice.”
While speaking at an all-male walk against rape held in Lagos, which had the state Governor, Mr. Akinwumi Ambode, in attendance, she said that on lack of adequate access to medical care for survivors of sexual assaults at the grassroots level, the team had launched the Lagos State Sexual Assault Standing Order to be used at all state health facilities.
It also developed and deployed the sexual assault examination kit called rape kit just as it secured sponsorship from Northwest Petroleum Ltd. for payment of laboratory tests of the kits.
Ambode commended the DSVRT, while stressing the government’s determination to check sexual assaults.
He said, “It is time we take the bull by the horn in tackling this menace of Sexual and Gender Based Violence in our society. Research and countless reports have indicated clearly that women are significantly more prone to being victims of these crimes. There is also an evident trend of suppressing the voice of these victims due to the fact that these acts are perpetrated largely by men.”Punch