Onungwe Obe in Yenagoa
The Gender Response Initiative Team (GRIT), a gender-based human rights group, yesterday mobilised people to march through major streets of Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, to raise the alarm over increasing cases rape and other gender-related violence against women and girls.
The protesters took their agitation to the state House of Assembly, where the convener, Maria Olodi, called for stern measures to curb gender-based violence.
Olodi said recently, three underage girls of between 13 and 14 years, were raped in the state, even as many cases still remain unreported.
She called on the state House of Assembly to domesticate the Violence Against Person Prohibition (VAPP) law passed by the National Assembly since 2015.
According to Olodi, “We are here this morning to present our case before the state assembly at a time that there has been an upsurge in gender-based violence in the country and Bayelsa State.
“It got to its peak during the lockdown wherein over 58 cases of gender-based violence were reported in Bayelsa State. That means those that were not reported can be more than these.
“The fact remains that gender based violence is taking another turn in the country, and that’s why there is the need to mitigate the trends to make sure it does not uproot the society.”
She pointed out the need to adopt a proactive measure to curb the raising cases of gender-based violence in the state and country.
Olodi said: “In 2015, the National Assembly passed the VAPP into law. And it’s been five years, some states have domesticated it, but Bayelsa State is yet to domesticate that law. Giving the peculiarity of each state, various states have fine-tuned it to suit their demands.”
While responding, the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Hon Abraham Ngobere, said the assembly had set in motion modalities to domesticate the law for the benefit of all Bayelsans.
Represented by the member representing Yenagoa II constituency, Mrs. Koko Obiyai, the Speaker said the fight against gender-based violence was the collective responsibility of the society, and urged parents to always be a guide to their wards.
Also speaking, the wife of the state governor, who sponsored the group, said the fight against the sexual abuses, rape and violence against women must be fought vigorously, urging the group not to relent because this is just the beginning until a law is passed.