Chuks Okocha in Abuja
Worried by the rise in cases of sexual harassment in the country against women, wives of the 36 state governors have resolved to harmonise efforts to curb the menace in the country by working together collaboratively and sharing best practices.
According to a communique issued by the state first ladies in a virtual teleconference, which signed by the wife of Ekiti State Governor, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, on behalf of First Ladies Against Gender-based Violence (FLA-GBV), the wives of the governors said: “A committee comprising first ladies from the six geo political zones was set up to drive the process, headed by Erelu Bisi Fayemi of Ekiti State and Mrs. Folake Abdulrazaq of Kwara State as secretary while the Chairpersons of the Northern and Southern Governors Wives Fora, Dr. Amina Abubakar Bello and Mrs. Betsy Obaseki respectively, would lend their support to the process.”
The meeting of the first ladies further agreed to inform the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) of all that were discussed in order to get the governors involved in the much needed areas of enacting laws to punish offenders.
The communique of the meeting said the first ladies noted the calls by various concerned organisations to declare a state of emergency on sexual and gender-based violence, and would like to add their voices to such demands.
The meeting also observed that very few cases of sexual violence in Nigeria end up in convictions, and therefore, resolved to become more involved in seeing that justice is done for survivors of sexual violence.
The communique of the meeting further stated that several states in the country have not domesticated relevant legislation to safeguard women and children from violence, and very few states have a ‘Sex Offenders Register’, and therefore, agreed that advocacy efforts would be intensified to ensure that legislation and implementation of such laws can be used to combat gender-based violence.
According to the communique, “We the first ladies of the 36 states of the federation have resolved to work assiduously with a range of stakeholders to break the culture of silence which has so far meant that perpetrators are not brought to justice because the parents and/or family members of the victims and the victims themselves are prevailed upon not to report these cases.”