The Oyo state government on Thursday inaugurated the State Sexual and Gender-Based Response team in furtherance of its efforts to reduce to the barest minimum, incidences of violence in any form and to ensure the provisions of the Violence Against Women Prohibition Law passed by the state House of Assembly in 2016 is adequately implemented.
The 16-man committee was inaugurated at the Conference Hall of the Ministry of Justice by the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Oluwaseun Abimbola, who charged the team, not to see itself as a committee but a quick response team that will holistically approach issues of violence and stand firm in the face of obnoxious cultural sentiments.
The Attorney General stated that the set up of the team is long overdue as there have been many reported cases of assault in various forms with so many still unreported, adding that the job of the committee is not only to give palliative measures but also to engage in advocacy and preventive measures.
According to him, gender-based violence is not about the female alone as anyone could be a victim of gender-based violence. He highlighted Sections 357 and 358 of the Criminal Code as well as Section 34 of the Child Rights law as important provisions.
He further urged the team to familiarise themselves with the provisions of the Violence Against Women Prohibition Law and to set up a guideline of activities so that the team will have a smooth operation and advised that everyone speaks with one voice on issues so that there will be a manifest success in the operation of the team.
He urged that the response team resolves all issue under the provisions of the law and remember that justice is a three-way street which must consider the victim, the society and the offender, urging that the end must come to an era where offenders will only receive a slap on the wrist as there is no family business in the issue of abuse.
Also speaking, the Commissioner for Women affairs, Mrs Atinuke Osunkoya stated that the inauguration of the team is a welcome development as her Ministry is inundated and traumatised at the volume of violent cases against women and children, adding that only about 10 per cent of cases are reported with only one per cent prosecuted.
She explained that signing the Violence Against Women Prohibition bill into law is not enough as there is an urgent need to address sexual violence against women and children in Oyo state.
According to her, cases need to be seen to a logical conclusion and treated promptly in the shortest period, adding that victims require more counselling while there is a need to provide shelter for victims during the care period.
Also speaking, the Director of Public Prosecution in the state, Mr S.O. Adeoye stated that25 per cent of cases that come to his office borders on issues of violence against women, adding that there should be more orientation so people can understand their rights and the importance of reporting cases of abuse.
The team members were drawn from different key sectors to create a synergy and an all-inclusive team that will; ensure the handling of cases in a way that will ensure victims get treatment, justice, counselling and rehabilitation without exposing them to more harm or stigma.