Wife of Edo State Governor, Mrs. Betsy Obaseki, her Kebbi State counterpart, Zainab Shinkafi Bagudu and human rights activist, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, yesterday, canvassed joint action by relevant stakeholders to end Gender-Based Violence and prosecute sexual offenders.
They spoke at a public lecture organised by Women Arise and the United Nations Information Centre to mark the commencement of 16 days of activism to end violence against women and girls in the country.
Betsy, who was the guest speaker at the virtual summit, urged stakeholders to work collectively with relevant government authorities, especially law enforcement agencies, to stem gender-based violence and uphold the rights of women.
With the theme: Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect, the event was held in commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, marked every November 25 by the United Nations and its partners.
Mrs. Obaseki, who advocated more legislations and concerted effort to fund, collect, respond and prevent gender-based violence, noted that the COVID-19 pandemic increased incidents of violence against women as a result of confinements, school closures, unemployment and hunger, among others.
She noted that apart from legislation aimed at protecting women and girls in the state, the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration had embarked on various programmes and reforms aimed at empowering the girl-child and ensure that the rights of women are upheld.
She said Edo State had launched its Sex Offenders’ Register and set up the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) in Benin City to prosecute all cases of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV).
On her part, Mrs. Bagudu said t it was time for stakeholders to move from talking to transformation through actionable plans.
Okei-Odumakin enjoined Nigerians, especially women to act and start a movement, adding: “Rather than watch abuses happen, stand up, speak up, intervene in potentially harmful situations or alert others for assistance.”
The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, an international campaign to challenge violence against women and girls, holds yearly from November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women to December 10, the Human Rights Day.