By Vera Samuel Anyagafu
Moved by the unfortunate increase in sexual molestation and domestic violence against girl-children and women in the society, the team of US Department of States International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP), in partnership with Somolu Local Council Area of Lagos State, hosted a one day symposium on negative effects of domestic violence and sexual molestation.
The program, which was held at the Somolu LCDA premises, on Thursday May 8, 2021, focused on strategies that will bring a lasting solution to sexual molestation and domestic violence against girl-children and women in the State and nation as a whole.
Giving her keynote address, at the event, themed: “Achieving a rape, child molestation and domestic violence-free community, IVLP President, Tade Adetoun, said that the aim of the symposium is to sensitise people, especially parents and care-givers on the damaging effects of rape, domestic violence and child molestation.
Adetoun enlightened them on signs to watch out for, what they should do, as well as where and how to get help when molested.
She also advised sexually violated victims to speak out, saying that: ” Enough is enough. We shouldn’t be quiet about rape, domestic violence or child molestation. We realise that many parents are afraid and also encourage their children and wards who are victims of rape or molestation to keep quiet because they do not want trouble.”
And while making them understand the psycho-social effect of the acts of violence of any sort, she promises that that the IVLP team in partnership with the Lagos State government are prepared to go all the way with them to bring perpetrators to book.
” We will also teach you preventive measures because there are certain things one can do to prevent some of the incidents from happening; and this is why we call in some experts and responsible authorities to handle cases of all sorts of domestic violence.
We make sure that victims who speak out but do not get the required justice they deserve, are directed and followed to get justice
This is achievable because we also have advocates at the fore-front of the fight for human rights. So for us, it is about people getting justice and the perpetrators seeing that it is not business as usual anymore”, she added.
Speaking also, Mental Health Therapist and Assistant General Secretary of the United States Government Exchange Alumni Association, Toluse Francis, noted the need to completely eradicate child molestation.
According to him, people need to understand that all have the responsibility of protecting the children. The task, he said, is not just for parents or teachers, but for everyone in the society.
He went on to say that people should realise that a child is not less human than an adult.
“A girl-child is not less important than the male child, a child is a child. Whatever you have at your disposal, use it as a tool to help the life of someone rather than take life away from them”, he stated, adding that, Nigeria’s judicial system needs to do a lot about the punishment given to child-offenders and molesters.
“It is not just about punishment given to offenders. We need to give the sensitisation on these acts. It has become a habit and a norm in society,” Toluse also said.
And while lamenting that it takes a while for people to see child molestation as abnormal, the child therapist advised that it is the responsibility of adults and responsible government authorities to keep talking and educating people. He said it is also important to take the sensitsation to the rural community and have some sensitisation that criminalises the act of violence against women and girls in the society.
Toluse however urged parents and guardians to pay more attention to their children and encourage them to speak out whenever they are molested or abused.
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