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Lagos Commissioner Calls For Good Parenting, Stiffer Penalities For Sexual Assault

Lagos State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Mrs. Bolaji Dada has called for good parenting and the enactment of stiffer penalties, including death sentence and castration as drastic measures, among others, to address the increasing rate of rape cases and other forms of sexual abuse in the country. The Commissioner disclosed this while speaking at a colloquium organised by the United Action for Change with the theme "Contextualisation of Rape Culture and Sexual Assault in Nigeria, the Search for Multidimensional Remedy". She outlined the root causes of rape such as poor parenting, where some parents abdicate their roles to helpers and neighbours without considering the effect on their wards, poverty and illiteracy. Mrs. Dada added that the breakdown in marriages makes the products of such union vulnerable to societal ills. Pointing out that in some cases, drug abuse, as well as mental ailments, can also cause sexual assault, Dada noted that some instances might be occult-related depending on situations and circumstances. "We cannot downplay the role of the internet, particularly social media, where all manner of pornography can be watched by hungry youths, paedophiles and maladjusted males with as little as N100 data. This is compounded by the corruption of public morals that occurs daily in public spaces", she added. While affirming the existence of various laws that ensure offenders do not go unpunished in different parts of the country, the Commissioner said ignorance and culture of silence have beclouded the fighting spirit to contend with offenders and urged parents to encourage both male and female children and even adult victims to speak out. On efforts being made by the government to curb the menace, Mrs. Dada disclosed that the Lagos State Government has carefully laid out plans and programmes on how to help rape and sexual assaults survivors, saying that plans are being perfected to speedily complete a Temporary Shelter for victims of Gender-Based Violence located at Agidingbi, and also provide additional ones to cater for other localities in the State. She averred that as part of strategies to address the issue, the Domestic Violence Unit of WAPA offers daily counselling, psycho-social and rescue intervention services to support survivors, in addition to various advocacy and sensitisation programmes, organised and disseminated periodically. In her words: "The Lagos State Government provides shelter to survivors of Rape and other Gender-Based Violence, just as the Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation also offers Skills Acquisition Training to some victims free of charge with the provision of empowerment start-up packs”. “In this regard, the Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team, Ministry of Youth and Social Development and other agencies have recorded remarkable achievements in tackling the issue of Gender-Based Violence, particularly Rape”, she added. She acknowledged the courage and foresight of the organisers of the colloquium, stressing that there is no better time than now to put together this type of programme since rape culture has become a recurring decimal in our country today.

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