From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government on Tuesday disclosed that a total number 3.491 of sexual and gender based violence cases have been reported officially in the last one year, out of this only 11 perpetrators have convicted (0.46 percent person conviction), while a total of 107 cases resulted in fatalities, 188 cases have been closed while 742 cases still remain open.
Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen made the disclosure at the inauguration of the Strategic Knowledge Management National Technical Working Group on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SKMTWG) structured to advice the ministry on the Multi-Sectorial SGBV National Response.
The group has been jointly set up by the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs in collaboration with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Foundatoon of Research and Education Debelopment (FRED).
The (SKMTWG) is expected to provide technical and strategic inputs to strengthen opportunities for evidence-based planning and decision-making towards addressing sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in an effective and efficient manner.
According to Tallen: “It is heart breaking that out of 3,491 reported cases of gender based violence that have been reported, only 11 have been prosecuted. This is unacceptable and I am pleading, crying with a loud voice that all well meaning Nigerians should join Mr. President in implementing the zero tolerance for gender based violence he has been advocating for. It is unacceptable that our children and women will be so abused, molested and then when reported nothing much is done. We can no longer accept this.
“All hands must be on deck. It is not just the ministry of women affairs that is handling this, there is an inter-ministerial committee that Mr. President has put in place. Every Nigerian is a father, every Nigerian is a mother and we must show concern on what is happening to our children and women.”
Tallen said her ministry will keep pushing other stakeholders which include the police and the judiciary to ensure justice is served.
According to her, “this (data) has exposed the justice system in the country and I believe with the commitment of Mr. President and the Attorney General, who is the chairman of the inter-ministerial committee this matter will not be left unattended.
“The thing is, out of every 10 cases of rape that occur in the country, only one has been reported, and for us to have over 3,000 cases reported nationwide, it means the total number of rape cases not reported are 10 times the figure reported and that is not acceptable. We cannot continue to fold our arms while our women and children will be so abused and nothing is being done.”
The minister said the implication of increasing number of sexual and gender based violence victims not getting justice is that the entire human system will be affected.
According to her, “where you have women and girls not coordinating well because…rape affects a woman and a child for life. It is a scar that can hardly be removed.”
Asked if it was safe to say the judicial system has failed in ensuring justice is served to victims of sexual and gender based violence, she said, “ I will not say that but I believe the judicial system will wake up to their responsibilities, the police will wake up to their own responsibilities and when we have all hands on deck we will all be better for it.”
Tallen said going forward, all routine data from gender based violence will be recorded.
Special Advisor, UNDP, Simon Ridley explained that the technical working group is supported by the global spotlight group and the initiative is targeted at ending violence against women and girls by 2030.