Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
In addition to a life jail term, Ekiti State Government has initiated a move to rework the Gender-based Violence Law (GVB) to carry more stringent capital punishment like medical castration of rapists and defilers.
Ekiti State Government and the wife of the Governor, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, are seeking an amendment of the Gender-based Violence (Prohibition) Law, 2011 at state House of Assembly to include further capital punishments that could deter the perpetrators.
At a public hearing of the GVB Amendment Bill at the Assembly yesterday, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Wale Fapohunda, said the amendment into the bill may include medical castration, compulsory psychiatric test and disqualification of offenders from benefiting from any government social investment programmes.
“We plead with the Assembly to have expeditious and holistic consideration of the amendment into this bill, because it is to provide legal framework for Governor Kayode Fayemi’s zero tolerance for all forms of gender violence.
“The increasing cases of rape and defiling of little children in Ekiti requires urgent attention. The amendment being sought may include imprisonment and medical castration of offenders among others not stipulated in the existing law,” he said.
Also, speaking at the public hearing, Fayemi’s wife said her office had been overwhelmed with complaints bordering on all forms of violence, particularly against women since 2018, saying amendment of the bill becomes imperative to give the victims voices and for offenders to be held accountable.
The First Lady added that the best form of injustice in any society is for offenders to be let off the hook without justifiable reasons, assuring that strengthening the law would ensure punishment for violators and allow people to take ownership.
“To make the law effective, we are going to decentralise the referral centres and all the local governments will have one each. You don’t need to come to the state capital before lodging your complaints. The GVB Management Committee has been brought back to attend to complaints. I feel distressed to hear when we returned past year that the committee didn’t meet for four years after we left.
“I am not the owner of the law, but for men and women in Ekiti. We only championed it. It is to protect us, our families and our society against all forms of discrimination, so that we can all live in dignity. Violence against women keeps increasing in Ekiti. We appeal to the House to pass this law expeditiously,” she said.
The Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, Hon. Funminiyi Afuye and the Chairman, House Committee on Women Affairs, Hon. Adekemi Balogun, said the law when amended would elevate gender issues to human rights status in the state.
Afuye added that there was need for people to be proactive to ensure that gender-based violence is banished in Ekiti.
“Rape and defilement have become epidemics in our society. This bill will be given expeditious passage. Gender-based violence must not be tolerated in Ekiti. Ekiti must be a barometer to gauge how Nigeria is fighting the scourge and in doing this, we have to be proactive,” he said.