Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, has called for a collaboration among all the states of the federation to combat the incessant occurrence of child defilement and rape in the country.
Fayemi stated this on Friday while signing into law the Sexual Violence Against Children (Compulsory treatment and care for child victims of sexual violence), recently passed by the state House of Assembly.
The Governor who reiterated the state’s policy of zero tolerance to all forms of sexual violence against women and children, said the law reaffirmed the commitment of his administration to support effective prosecution of sex offenders as well as presented an opportunity for child victims to enjoy necessary treatment by government.
The governor lamented the rate at which women and the girl child were being violated in the country describing it as an act of extreme violence which must be addressed urgently before it gets out of hand.
In the drive to combat the scourge nationally, Fayemi called for a state of emergency to deal more effectively with the menace.
Fayemi promised to engage the Nigeria Governors’ Forum in a conversation on the issue to determine what emergency measures to put in place to address the crisis situation more effectively.
He urged the state House of Assembly to engage the civil society and the private sector with a view to identifying urgent intervention in ending violence against women and girl child that could be implemented immediately.
Governor Fayemi said, “Today, I’m proud to sign a law that affirms one of the important policies of my administration. That is our policy of zero tolerance of all forms of sexual violence against women and children. The ‘Compulsory Treatment and Care for Child Victims of Sexual Violence Bill, 2020’ reaffirms our commitment not only to prompt medical care for child victims of sexual violence but also supports our resolve to achieve the effective prosecution of sex offenders.
“It is my view that there is a need for a national consensus on the issue. I will be engaging the Nigeria Governors’ Forum at our next meeting to determine what emergency measures can be put in place to address this crisis more effectively and on a national basis. Meanwhile, I will urge the House of Assembly to engage civil society and the private sector with a view to identifying urgent interventions in ending violence against women and girls that can be implemented without delay.”
The governor revealed that his administration enacted several laws against sexual violence and had undertaken a number of programmes to enable effective action against sexual violence during his first term in office.
This he said, included the review of legislation, practices and customs that discriminate against women; laws, policies and programmes that explicitly prohibit and punish sexual violence and ensured an improvement in the quality and accessibility of services so that women and children have prompt access to support services regardless of their location, age or finance.
He explained further that his administration specifically established a Register of Sex Offenders of all persons convicted of acts of sexual violence and adopted a policy of publicly naming and shaming convicted sex offenders as well as putting machinery in motion to strengthen the Gender Based Violence Management Committee to oversee the implementation of the GBV Law.
“In many respects, however, it is now obvious that we need to do more to confront the severity of the challenges we face. Our response must be efficient and proactive to end a culture of impunity and foster a culture of justice and deterrent. It is against this background that I now wish to enumerate some of the additional measures we will be taking.
“First, by virtue of the Compulsory Treatment and Care for Child Victims of Sexual Violence Law, 2020’ a child victim of sexual violence in this State will have rapid access to a medical facility that can administer emergency medical care, including treatment to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases and counseling.
“We are going to overhaul and modernize our register of sex offenders to ensure it is effective in combating sexual violence. I have directed the Ministry of Justice to consider additional measures to make the register permanently accessible to the public.
“The Ministry of Justice is further directed to reaffirm state policy of opposing bail and rejecting plea bargain proposals from perpetrators of rape and child defilement. The State Government’s policy of ensuring that convicted sex offenders do not benefit from my power of prerogative of mercy remain in force.” Dr Fayemi added.
The Governor also directed the Ministry of Justice to work on measures to clear the backlog of rape and child defilement cases delayed because of the closure of courts during the COVID 19 period adding that his administration was determined to improve conviction rates and provide comprehensive and appropriate support services to ensure survivors of sexual offences are not subjected to further trauma.
While seeking the cooperation of medical facilities and the security outfits in the state whose roles are crucial to the implementation of the law,Fayemi expressed his appreciation to the State House of Assembly for its prompt passage of the law.