Without collaboration, VAPP law implementation will not succeed ― Betty Akeredolu

The Wife of the Governor of Ondo State, Arabinrin Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, on Monday, stated that there is a need to engage in collaboration and partnership to solve women issues as women alone cannot solve their problems, adding that “with particular reference to the implementation of the VAPP Law, collaboration is needed to transform the law from a mere legal compendium into an actual working legal instrument to protect everyone from violence.

“When you look at gender-based violence, in particular, you would see that responding to the issues of rape and domestic violence as common examples, requires full implementation of the VAPP Law. The Law makes provisions for the three most important aspects of responding to gender-based violence: medical, legal and psychosocial and women must collaborate with other women, men, corporate organisations, government and non-governmental organisations and civil society, in order to achieve a holistic approach to development,” she stated.

Mrs Akeredolu made this assertion while giving her keynote address at the opening ceremony of the Oyo FIDA Law Week 2021, themed ‘collaborative synergy amongst stakeholders for the enforcement and implementation of Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law (VAPP) 2021: Removing the clogs, which held at the Aare Afe Babalola Bar Centre, Iyaganku.

According to her, having the VAPP Law domesticated does not automatically stop perpetrators from committing the offence of rape, “we want to see people put behind bars when they rape our women and commit all sorts of ungodly acts against our children. We need the police to play their part in ensuring a smooth justice process. Every State in Nigeria needs a clear strategy for tackling the problem of gender-based violence with key stakeholders fully buying in on the strategy and taking up roles. Everyone must be on the same page otherwise we would notice that the actions or inactions of one relevant stakeholder may be the only reason a rapist is still walking free in the community or a victim gets his or her life cut short prematurely,” she added.

She explained that while women need men to support them if they desire sustainable solutions, women must lead in efforts to identify feminised global and local problems, as well as lead in the design and implementation of solutions to those problems identified as this is the era that women must be allowed to seat on the driver’s seat to navigate womenfolk all over the world from the depths of age-long patriarchy to El Dorado.

Also speaking, the chairperson of FIDA in Oyo State, Deborah Oluyemisi Collins said, “Our society is yet to fully evolve to embrace the solutions and the innovations that the VAPP Law proffers. On a daily basis, we are inundated with cases of abuses in our media, our neighbourhood and immediate environment so much that we are becoming used to them and seemingly accepting them as norms,” she said.

The FIDA chairperson added that the consequence of this is that the law, when not maximally used to combat and stem these abusive occurrences, remains in the realm of law in paper and not in action.

In her goodwill message, Mrs Funmi Roberts, an arbitration and mediation icon, urged women lawyers to work together under one umbrella and not allow any form of division, reiterating that there is no need for splinter forums amongst women lawyers.

Speaking on behalf of the judiciary, Justice Olajumoke Aiki said trashy prosecution and lack of seriousness of some prosecutors hamper the course of justice in abuse and rape cases, reiterating that if the law will be applied, every stakeholder especially prosecutors must be diligent and serious in the way they handle cases as judges are not sitting down to waste time or perform drama but to get the job done.

The issue of victimisation of families of survivors and parental neglect was also discussed.

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