The bill to eradicate domestic violence and sexual assault in Lagos state, has scaled through second reading in the House of Assembly.
The lawmakers extensively discussed the bill on Monday during plenary session.
Giving an overview of the Bill, Hon. Victor Akande (Ojo 1) expressed the timeliness and germane position of the Bill as it guarantees protection of rights and victims against sexual and gender based violence.
According to him, the Bill establishes provisions for victims to have rights to medical and legal counseling which is very paramount, conducting of preliminary investigations against offenders, partnership with public and private sectors, protection of victims against stigmatisation as well as the creation of avenue for database entry for sexual and violence offenders, whereby the offenders will be recorded into a sexual offence register.
In his comments, Hon. Rotimi Olowo (Somolu 1) said that the Bill would ensure that justice is served, medical assistance is provided to the victims as well as provision of funds and that the perpetrators are psychoanalysed.
Stating the advantages of the Bill, Hon. Gbolahan Yishawu (Eti-Osa 2) asserted that with the formation of the new agency, there would be database capturing offenders and the incorporation of the Ministry of Justice response team.
The Majority Leader, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade, in his contributions, noted that the Bill attempts to eradicate the impunity of violence that is rampant in the society.
He added that the creation of life imprisonment for perpetrators of rape gave legal backing to various reforms made by the state in response to other legislations.
“The Judiciary is well represented in the proposed Committee as well as top tier representative of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, WAPA, Health, Education, and Youth in order to ensure that they are able to discharge responsibilities assigned to them by the Law.”
He explained that the amendment of the Bill would further reduce domestic and gender based sexual abuse.
Chairman, House Committee on Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Hon. Mojisola Alli-Macaulay stated that the Bill is sacrosanct as the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence agency would be able to perform optimally.
“It will create a one-stop centre for victims of sexual and gender based violence through the establishment of the agency, as it will also ensure that victims of violence will have access to medical, legal assistance and ensure justice is served; thereby protecting the victims from victimisation and stigmatisation. I support this Bill as it will reinstate sanity to our society.” She said.
However, the Speaker of the House, Rt. (Hon) Mudashiru Obasa, stated that victimization and stigmatization of victims of all forms of domestic and sexual assault are issues that need to be tackled by putting all necessary stoppages particularly the Law in curbing its widespread.
“This Bill is to examine the causes of violence and proffer lasting solutions; therefore we need to set all the laws to avoid repetition of the existing ones as well as ensure that the magistrate committee of the response team who are assigned in other duties does not affect the effectiveness of the agency when it is recreated.”
“Also, the matter of establishing new agencies should also be looked into critically to avoid increase in expenditure on the State government except the purpose of the agency demands it, in order not to create unnecessary effort where it is not needed.” said Obasa.
Obasa, thereafter, committed the Bill to House Committee on Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation to report in a week time.
Earlier, the Speaker received Spotlight Initiative Advocacy Group consisting of 200 women from different organisations who held a peaceful protest and awareness walk to Lagos State House of Assembly to present a joint statement demands in commemoration of the 2020 16 days of activism themed “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect”.
The advocacy group expressed their concern about the prevalence of violence against women and girls in the state, hoping that the oversight role of the State Assembly can help to support the eradication of any form of violence against women and girls.