Betsy Obaseki

By Jethro Ibileke/Benin

Wife of Edo State Governor, Mrs. Betsy Obaseki, has advocated for renewed commitment and support for victims of gender-based violence.

This is even as she urged victims across the state to take advantage of the Vivian Sexual Assault Referral Centre to address cases of abuse.

Obaseki made the call in Benin, on Thursday, at a one-day seminar on elimination of violence against women, to commemorate the annual 16 days activism against gender-based violence, put together by the State Ministry of Social Development and Gender Issues, and the Office of the First Lady.

Represented by Dr. Nosa Aladeshelu at the event, Obaseki expressed “renewed commitment and support for victims of gender-based violence in the state.”

She reiterate government’s commitment to checking the score of GBV in the state, in view of the numerous plans and structures already in place to address it, one of which she said, is the Vivian (SARC) Centre.

“We have gathered here to raise our voices so that Edo people will know that this centre exists; that Edo women will know that they can refer their cases here; that Edo men will know that this place is here for them to report issues of sexual or any abuse at all against their daughters and they will have the appropriate response.”

The Permanent Secretary of the State Ministry of Social Development and Gender Issues, Mrs. Dorcas Idehen, while addressing the participants, described the 16 days of activism against GBV as a clarion call for all and sundry.

She said: “To end this scourge calls for global action to increase awareness, galvernize advocacy efforts and share more knowledge globally.”

In her speech, the state President of Federation of Women Lawyers, (FIDA), Iryn Omorogiuwa, advocated that all forms of gender-based violence be properly reported.

“The bottom line is that we are saying that there must be an end to violence against women and children. the discussions here are all geared to help us chart and forge a way forward where violence against women and children will be a thing of the past,” Omorogiuwa said.

The former Commissioner for Social Development and Gender, Mrs. Marian Edeko on her part said that “there is need for proper sensitization on what constitutes violence against women and that is the reason for this seminar.

Explaining what constitutes gender-based violence, Barrister Ulo Uzamere said: “If you are being beaten that is physical violence, if you are being sexually assaulted and raped, that is sexual violence, if you are being starved of money and not allowed to make your own money that is financial violence, If you’re passing through any of these, come to this place and talk to your sisters.”

Meanwhile, the immediate past Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in the state, Prof. Yinka Omorogbe, has disclosed that many offenders of domestic violence are not prosecuted because victims do not report such offenders.

This, she said, was because domestic violence often times occur between two persons in an intimate relationship.

Prof. Omorogbe made this assertion while delivering a keynote address at the pre-lunch of a book titled “Surviving Domestic Violence in Relation to Laws of Protection in Nigeria,” written by a survivor of domestic violence, Mrs. Louisa Eikhonmu-Agbonkhese, in collaboration with the Edo State Ministry of Social Development and Gender Issues.

The former Attorney-General, who was represented by Stella Ojemen, noted that “many women don’t report domestic violence because they’re reluctant to report their husbands, they’re reluctant to report their boyfriends or their men friends,” which she said was not in their interest.

She added: “We all know that most domestic violence is occasioned by two people who are close and are in intimate relationship and that makes it difficult to address. The people who are victims depend on the perpetrators either emotionally or economically. You can’t continue to remain in an abusive relationship.”