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Sexual abuse: Group advocates establishment of specialise courts

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Reports from the United Nations Women reveals that 30 percent of girls and women aged between 15 and 49 in Nigeria are victims of sexual based violence and abuse.

To this end, the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) has join voices with other prominent stakeholders to call for the establishment of designated courts for Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) related issues in Nigeria.

The group made the call in Abuja on Tuesday at a press conference to commemorate the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence 2021 in Abuja.

The 16 days of Activism is marked between 25th November and 10th December every year to project the rights of women and girls and also advocate for the prevention and elimination of violence against them.

Recall that notable personalities including the Minister for Justice and the Attorney General of the Federation Abubakar Malami, SAN had called for establishment of specialised courts for SGBV matters.

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RoLAC programme officer, Hannatu Essien in her address pointed out that since the establishment of the first Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) in Nigeria in 2013, the number of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) cases reported to SARCs is still a poor representation of the scale of sexual assault in Nigeria. The number of SGBV cases that are prosecuted are very few compared to the number of reports.

She express believe that with the establishment of specialize courts, delays in justice processes will be addressed.

She said: “In spite of the remarkable expansion and spread of the SARC initiative in Nigeria and stronger focus nationwide on the provision of comprehensive medical and counselling services for survivors, the number of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) cases reported to SARCs is still a poor representation of the scale of sexual assault in Nigeria. The number of SGBV cases that are prosecuted are very few compared to the number of reports.

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“For many years, there has been a steady call for the establishment of specialised courts for SGBV in Nigeria to address delays in the justice process. Most recently, this call was echoed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN. The AGF’s call followed the inauguration in 2020 by the President of an Inter-Ministerial Management Committee on Eradication of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, a demonstration of the government’s renewed commitment to comprehensively address SGBV and protect victims.

“The Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) Programme is supporting the call and effort to establish special courts for SGBV and is collaborating with the FCT Judiciary, the Federal Ministry of Justice and the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) on the occasion of the 16 Days of Activism 2021, to sensitize and mobilise relevant actors and stakeholders around the imperative and applicability of special courts for SGBV, in the context of Nigeria’s legislative and social policy environment. The aim is to explore relevant policy options, guidelines and recommendations for establishing or designating special courts for SGBV across Nigeria” Hannatu added.

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RoLAC further unveiled other activities lined up to commemorate this year’s 16 Days of Activism as follows;

Thursday, 25 November 2021, Plenary session by stakeholders, Stage play, Monday, 29 November – Mock SGBV courts, Monday, 29 November – Wednesday, 1 December 2021, Counseling and legal clinics, Wednesday, 3 December 2021, Public Presentation of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act in Nigeria (VAPPA) Annual Report by
National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons NAPTIP among others.

The Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) Programme is a 5-year (2017 – 2022) programme funded by the European Union and implemented by the British Council in Nigeria. Its intervention is focused in five states namely, Adamawa, Anambra, Edo Kano, Lagos – and at Federal level.

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