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GROUP MOUNTS CAMPAIGN AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

By NBF News
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•Mrs Falana (2nd Right) and other speakers
The atmosphere was emotional and revealing. It was at a one-day seminar on exposition of law against Domestic Violence organised by the Women Empowerment and Legal Aid (WELA).

Everyone at the event openly condemned the increasing wave of domestic violence against women and children. But surprisingly, majority of those present at the gathering openly confessed their ignorance of the existence of Lagos State Law against Domestic Violence codified and gazette since 2007 to curb the increasing wave of domestic violence against women and children in several homes in the state.

The atmosphere of the seminar, which was attended by stakeholders, including policemen, lawyers, magistrates, members of civil society organisations (CSO), men, women and journalists became charged when the National Coordinator of WELA, Funmi Falana in her welcome address reeled the list of several incidents of domestic violence perpetrated against women and children. According to the chilling account, some of the victims have been sent to untimely death.

'Domestic Violence is not peculiar to any class, race or Nationality. Sometime last year, an Oba in Ondo State assaulted his wife who later died from the injury sustained. It was also reported that the husband of a banker, in the process of an argument, beat her to death. About three weeks ago, a live-in lover killed his lover and also killed himself somewhere in Victoria Island, Lagos. It was also widely reported about a month ago that a father somewhere in Delta State beat his five year-old daughter to death, dropped her in the mortuary and took to his heels.

But he came back home to accuse another person of committing the crime when it dawned on him that he could not escape from the arm of the law,' she said.

She lamented that since 2007 when the Law against Domestic Violence has been in existence in the state, most people, particularly those whose rights are violated on daily basis at homes, are completely ignorant of its existence.

On his part, Chief Superintendent of Police, Ayilara Olukayode who explained the role of the police in the implementation of the law, took time to explain acts that amount to offence under the law. He specifically identified four core areas that constitute abuse in the eye of the law. According to him, such acts include physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse and economic abuse. The police chief lamented that in most cases, children are the most traumatized in homes where domestic violence occurs.

Explaining the duties of the police under the law, he said sections 3 and 4 of the Lagos State Protection against Domestic Violence Law 2007 empower such personnel to arrest the respondent or perpetrator without warrant.

'The complainant shall be assisted also to get medical care and suitable accommodation given the circumstance upon which he finds the complainant at the scene of the incident of domestic violence.

'However, the respondent/perpetrator cannot be detained beyond the constitutional limits provided for in the 1999 constitution as amended,' he said.

Lagos State Deputy Governor, Hon Adejoke Adefulire who delivered a special keynote address at the occasion bemoaned the rising wave of domestic violence in the states and charged the gathering to join hands with the state government in order to arrest the ugly trend.

According to Adefulire who was represented at the event by the permanent secretary, Ministry of Women Affairs, Mrs. Riskat Akiyode, ' it has been established that both physical and psychological violence against women result in physical injury, depression, low self- esteem, trauma, stress and other health related problems and may sometimes result in death. It is not only the victims that suffer, children also get hurt when they see their mothers being maltreated, yelled at, pushed, or hit. They experience confusion, fear, stress and shame.'

Speaking further, she established a link between juvenile delinquency, deviancy, violence conduct among children and youths to broken homes which was the direct results of domestic violence.

While commending WELA for taking the campaign against domestic violence to the front burner, the deputy governor noted that the state government has already recorded an appreciable success, especially in the area of rehabilitation of victims of domestic violence by providing them with temporary accommodation.

Human rights lawyer, Bamidele Aturu urged the state government to focus on the provision of enabling environment for the effective operation of the law if the objective behind its enactment is to be achieved.

On her part, Mrs. E.B Daudu of the Surulere magistrate court harped on the need for adequate education of stakeholders on the existence of the law. She called for education of judicial officers on the application of the law while calling for provision of adequate infrastructure to support the effective implementation of the law.

To Lagos-based female lawyer and right activist, Mrs. Biola Akiyode-Afolabi, domestic violence has reached an alarming level in the country. She called on various stakeholders to join forces to arrest the ugly trend. According to her, domestic violence, under whatever guise, is a crime.