The Edo state government on Wednesday launched a sex offender register to name and shame rapists and offenders of other forms of sexual and gender-based violence(SGBV) in the state.
Speaking at the launch, the Commissioner for Justice, Yinka Omorogbe, said that there is need for a register in view of the alarming increase in SGBV, especially in Edo.
”The alarming rise of SGBV cases, especially in Edo, calls for the employment of drastic measures to adequately tackle SGBV and to ensure that perpetrators are not only made to answer for their crimes but are made to feel the full brunt of the law.
“The sexual offender register is to serve as a tool to name and shame those convicted or reported to have engaged in sexual abuse or exploitation.
“Would-be employers, especially those working with vulnerable citizens, such as children, young adults, and persons with disabilities, are encouraged to carry out background checks for would-be applicants.”
She said ”the Edo sexual offender database is fully connected with the National sexual offender database which was launched by the UN Deputy Secretary-General and warehouse in NAPTIP, making Edo the first state to link up with the national database.
”The register will basically contain information of reported, arraigned or convicted people involved in cases of sexual violation or abuse as defined by the Violence against Persons Prohibition !aw.”
She said SGBV was a growing problem, “a public health challenge and a barrier to civic, social, political and economic participation which has been occasioned by series of reported cases of domestic violence, sexual exploitation and rape among others.
“With the spike in SGBV reports globally, it became imperative that Edo state rise to the fight to combat SGBV in the state thereby setting the pace for other states to follow suit.
“Statistics have shown that an estimated one in three women worldwide has been coerced into sex, beaten or otherwise abused in their lifetimes.
” The tragic cases of victims, who have been brutally raped and murdered are examples of how this menace if not adequately dealt with, will continue to have devastating consequences in our society and the lives and well being of the people of Edo state. “
Mrs Omorogbe noted that the state government’s decision to .roundly deal with SGBV dated back to 2019, when the office of the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, with the support of the Rule of Law and Anti Corruption Programme, reached out to Edo to commence an SGBV project through the establishment of the SGBV Response Team.
She expressed worry that SGBV cases were on the increase, especially with the coming of the COVID-19 pandemic, that had caused outrage and served as a catalyst to highlight the need to strengthen the present structure to combat SGBV in Edo, and Nigeria.
She said the launch of the state sexual offender register and service provider register and assault referral centre, was the state government’s way of readiness to effectively address the menace that would ensure that ” the streets of Edo are once again safe for our women and children. “
The attorney general said the SGBV-RT, being an integral part of this process since its inauguration in 2019, had been actively working on putting various initiatives in place to help increase awareness of the problem and its impact to improve the response services for victims and strengthen prevention strategies.
” The response team is composed of stakeholders drawn from government and civil society and headed by the attorney general and commissioner for justice.
” The response team is committed to providing referral services and monitoring the provision of quality forensic, medical psychosocial, legal and aftercare services to survivors of SGBV.
” The team also works to address the problem of stigmatization by ensuring that holistic and specific measures are taken to minimize same. It also raises awareness of SGBV issues among stakeholders, survivors and members of the public to ensure the effective prosecution of SGBV cases in Edo.
She said the efforts of the response team helped for the creation of the first-ever sexual assault referral centre (SARC) in Edo, “named after Vivian Ogu, who was violently killed after her assailant was unsuccessful in raping her.”
Mrs Omoregbe disclosed that while one SARC was being planned for Uromi, in Edo Central senatorial district of the state, two more centres would be established in other parts of the state soonest.
“The SARC is a rise against the fate suffered by Vivian Ogu, Uwaila Omozuwa and many more; it is essentially designed to serve as one-stop for victims of SGBV in Edo State.
” It is a safe and confidential place with state of the art equipment and professionals armed with the requisite know-how to attend to the needs and complainants of victims,” she said.