Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt
The National Association of Seadogs (NAS), Olympus Marino Deck, has called on government at all levels to urgently tackle the rising cases of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) amongst undergraduates in tertiary institutions in Rivers State.
The group made the call while speaking with journalists at a sensitisation programme on SGBV organised in collaboration with We The People, Gender and Development Action (GADA) and Rotary Club, for students.
The students were selected from the Rivers State University, University of Port Harcourt and Captain Amadi Polytechnic.
Speaking with THISDAY, the Second Mate, NAS, Mr Ilochi Nnamdi, said the programme was organised in commemoration of the International Day For the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Nnamdi, who disclosed the theme of the programme as “Sexual and Gender Based Violence; The Rise in Femicide, Linked To Intimate Partner Violence Among Undergraduates In Råivers State”, expressed that the recent surge in SGBV and killings of undergraduate students in Rivers has reached an alarming and distressing level.”
He said as an organisation dedicated to guarding human rights and advocating for justice, they condemned the reprehensible acts and called on the state government to take immediate and decisive action to address the urgent issue of incessant killings of undergraduates in the state.
Nnamdi said: “The safety and well-being of students particularly young women, are fundamental rights that should be protected within educational settings. The increasing reports of SGBV incidents and killings have created an atmosphere of fear and insecurity, severely impacting the educational experience and mental health of our students.”
“We therefore, urgently call on the Rivers State Government to institute stringent measures by implementing and enforcing robust policies and mechanisms within educational institutions to prevent, respond to, and address incidents of SGBV effectively.”
He also urged the government to ensure accessible support services by providing accessible and confidential support services, including counseling, legal aid and medical assistance, to survivors of SGBV, ensuring their safety and access to justice.
Nnamdi further noted the need for security agencies to expedite the investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators involved in such heinous acts, ensuring they face the full force of the law, adding that it will serve as a deterrent and ensure justice for the victims.
He added: “It is thus imperative that all stakeholders, including educational institutions, government bodies, law enforcement agencies, and civil society organisations, collaborate to urgently address this escalating crisis and ensure the safety and well-being of our students.”
In her presentation, Inringi Irimagha, said the importance of the event was to get the government to be more responsive in the SGBV issues in the state.
Irimagha, who represented GADA said: “I think is very important to keep highlighting the issue of SGBV, especially now that we are having increase cases of femicide in Rivers State. We have had alot of cases of women and girls get missing.
“It is important to ensure that young girls in our tertiary institutions understand how to protect themselves and what legal provisions that are available for them to access if they find themselves in any situation. Is also important to call the government to hold the perpetrators accountable, prosecute them so that people can stop.
She expressed sadness that people are committing crimes against girls and women in the state because nothing is happening to the criminals. “The last time a Uniport girl was killed in her boyfriend’s house, people spent days and weeks on the internet blaming the girl, meanwhile the perpetrator was an organ harvester.”