More than 200 people are facing trial in Lagos State for domestic and sexual offences. MrsVivourAdeniyi, coordinator, Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) said that victims of sexual offences were under aged persons.
She said the law on domestic and sexual offences in the state was enacted in 2011, following the experience of a four-year-old girl, whose pelvic dropped after being raped by a man.”After the law was passed in 2011, offences of rape and defilement now carry life imprisonment,” she said.
In spite of the law, the prosecution still has to deal with several issues concerning rape and domestic violence. “For instance, in these kinds of matters, most times, there is no medical evidence for the written testimony of the victim. Also, sometimes, before the case file is transmitted from the police to the DPP, it takes two years. We have a case where the incident occurred when the child was four and the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) didn’t get the file till when the child was six. By then, the parents had relocated and said they had left the matter to God.”
The agency’s coordinator, who said investigation was very critical to the successful prosecution of sexual offences, noted that in an ideal world, there would be a collocation team, comprising a police officer, a prosecutor and a forensic examiner, “who will swing into action as soon as the report of sexual violence is made so that no evidence will be missed”.
Mrs. Vivour-Adeniyi said the major challenge the agency is facing with prosecution of sexual violence has been that of keeping evidences.
She emphasised that victims of sexual violence should desist from taking a bath first before reporting the incident.
“When they do that, they wash off evidences needed to nail their assailants,” the agency chief said.
She explained that this was why the team decided to seek the support of the media to sensitise the public on their activities and on the need educate victims on their rights.
Mrs. Vivour-Adeniyi said sometimes, “families, community leaders and culture constitute a challenge”, especially when they start pleading not to prosecute the offenders after they had received monetary compensations.
She advised parents on the need to teach their children relevant information. “Parents should empower their children. You need to look for avenues to have sex talk with your kids,” she said.
By Dike Onwuamaeze