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Oyo to prosecute sexual offenders

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The Oyo state Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Inclusion, Mrs. Toyin Balogun has vowed that the state government will not shy away from prosecuting perpetrators of Sexual and Gender- Based Violence (SGBV).

The Commissioner made this known during a day stakeholders sensitisation meeting on SGBV and COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Project (CoPREP) held at Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovative Studies, Awolowo Road, Bodija, Ibadan.

She reiterated that under the existing laws in the State, there is no hidden place for perpetrators of such preposterous act.

Balogun noted that Violence Against Person Prohibition Law (VAPP), Sexual and Gender Based Agency/Referral Centre Laws have been signed into law, hence perpetrators of SGBV in the State are punishable under these existing laws.

The Commissioner posited that as policy makers, “we should not be onlookers but Social architects striving for systemic change to ensure that all perpetrators are held accountable through fair and effective legal systems, regardless of their social status or position of power”.

Balogun stated further that it is “our collective responsibilities to brainstorm against future outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic and other infectious and communicable diseases as well as preparedness plan from the perspective of sexual and gender based violence”.

The Commissioner who said that SGBV knows no boundaries, added that it affects people of all ages, gender, sexual orientation and socio-economic backgrounds.

She stressed that it is a violation of human rights and dignity which thrives in environments where inequalities, determination and impunity exist.

She, therefore, affirmed that victims must be supported with accessible and survivor-centered services, including healthcare, legal aids, counseling and safe shelter.

Balogun added that silence and stigma surrounding SGBV should be broken, to ensure that victims are met with belief, validation and support when they come forward.

Earlier in her address, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Inclusion, Mrs. Dolapo Popoola charged all participating stakeholders to unite in a shared mission to equip themselves with the knowledge, tools and compassion needed to combat these harmful practices and injustice.

She stressed that, “with oneness we can build safer communities and advocate for the dignity and well-being of all individuals”.

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