Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State on Monday recommended minimum sentence of 25 years for rapists, saying rape should not be met with light sentencing. Ambode made the recommendation during a symbolic walk against domestic and sexual violence at Alausa.
“It is highly recommended. We need new laws which will respond adequately to the nature and occurrences of this era. “Domestic violence is a crime and should be treated as such.
The Protection against Domestic Violence Law, 2007 should, therefore, be amended accordingly,” he said. Ambode urged the Nigeria Police Force, which was usually the first point of call, to strive to be more professional and ensure proper investigation of reported cases by grooming specialist officers in that regard.
“As the saying goes, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the next best time is now. “We firmly believe that the actions we take today will be the seeds sown for a brighter future for our women and indeed, our children.
“We believe our state can continue to pioneer in this agenda and become a benchmark not just in Nigeria, but globally,” he said. The governor said that a lot of progress had been made in protecting the rights of women and the girl-child, and against “oppression of the female gender’’, there was still so much to be done.
“We need to ask ourselves the hard question: for this course we honour today, how can we truly ensure we are walking the talk? “In our state, there has been a significant increase in formal and informal reporting of domestic and sexual violence cases, but contrary to what it appears to be, this menace is not a recent development.
“These occurrences have been around for years, but they were seen as norms because nobody spoke out against them, and such acts were overlooked based on misguided definitions of gender roles. “What we are tackling today is an almost innate culture which relegates women to the background, and forces them to suffer in silence.
“In Lagos, we are waging a war against this culture and we will do everything within our power to transform ours to a culture of equality, respect and dignity for all.
“It is a journey of radical transformation, and our government is wholly committed to seeing it through,” he said. Ambode said that the state’s Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team had executed various interventions and initiatives as regards fighting sexual and gender-based violence.
“We are not just reactive in helping survivors, but also taking aggressive steps to prevent future occurrences. “Our aim is to build a system of trust and accountability, where survivors are encouraged to speak out and potential perpetrators are discouraged to commit future acts,” he said.
On Land Use charge, the governor noted that the state government was still open to dialogue. “I really mean it when I say I want dialogue. By the end of the week, we should be able to come out with something meaningful to ameliorate the issues being raised,”
he said. Earlier, the Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Imohinmi Edgal, described the walk as significant, saying it would heighten people’s consciousness to always be at alert and report cases of domestic and sexual abuse. Some participants in the walk carried placards with various inscriptions, including “Domestic Violence is Not a Family Matter, Report It”, “Women Empowerment, Gender Parity, that’s what I stand for” and “Lagos State says no to domestic violence”. (NAN)