Dr Irene Patrick-Ogbogu, Executive Director, Disability Rights Advocacy Centre (DRAC) on Thursday called on the Federal Government to ensure inclusion of disability in its policies on gender-based violence..
Patrick-Ogbogu said this at DRAC’s 4th Annual `We are Women Too Convening’ Parliament, with the theme “The Intersection of Exclusion: Addressing Sexual Gender-based Violence and Disability ‘’in Abuja.
She said that it was important for government to invest a lot of resources in services needed by people who had survived any forms of sexual and gender based violence.
“There are two ways that policies are not disability inclusive, it is ether in the text of the policy, being that they do not take into consideration the peculiarities of Persons With Disability (PWDs), or in its implementation.
“We, as an organisation, DRAC has been engaging with Service providers and the government to review the necessary laws, so as to make them more disability inclusive to ensure that they are implemented through a disability lens.
“This will involve consulting with PWDs to ensure that the services are tailored to suit their needs’’, she said.
Patrick-Ogbogu also said that there was need for more sexual assault referral centres, where victims of sexual assault and gender-based violence could go and receive necessary services.
She listed the services as; necessary health services, investigations, psychosocial counselling and services that would aim to reduce the stigma associated with being raped or sexually assaulted.
“We also want to see a situation where, at the end of the day, the survivor gets justice, we need to work with the police, the lawyers, to ensure that there are legal services available for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.’’
She said that the parliament would afford victims of sexual and gender-based violence the opportunity to engage with service providers and ask necessary questions around how services could be provided to meet their needs.
Dr Toyin Aderemi, Disabilty Advisor, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) explained that PWDs were more prone to gender based violence because of their physical challenges .
Aderemi said that people committed heinous acts against them, either because they could not talk, see, walk and so on, and mostly because they depended on the perpetrators for a living or financial help.
She listed stigmatisation, lack of justice, lack of awareness, as being among the factors that contributed to gender-based violence, explaining that perpetrators always got away because most reporting channels were not accessible to survivors, adding that even police stations were not physically accessible to them due to their challenges.
The advisor called for more awareness creation for Nigerians and the government, because most people had no idea what to do about gender-based violence.
Director, International Operations, Legal Aid Council, Grace Nsot, urged Nigerians to come to the council to seek justice for free, emphasising that although the council does not prosecute, it could provide lawyers, free of charge, stressing, “any indigent Nigerian who has any issue with the law can come to us.’’(NAN)