Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation (WAPA)Mrs. Bola Dapo-Thomas has reiterated the commitment of the present administration to the overall protection, safety and development of women and girl child.
The Permanent Secretary, who made the declaration in a paper titled “Government’s Support for the Women in Challenging Time” at the just concluded Conference of Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials (COWLSO) said the State Government has declared zero-tolerance for child abuse, sexual and gender-based violence with first time offenders being issued a “Yellow Card” which serves as a warning and a “Red Card” for prosecution of a perpetual offender.
She explained that Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) has been inaugurated as an immediate response to the increased incidence of rape, defilement, domestic violence, child abuse, neglect and maltreatment in the State, adding that these have made the enforcement of the Domestic Violence and Child Rights Laws much easier.
The Permanent Secretary stated that as part of efforts to ensure that victims receive adequate treatment for their trauma, the State Government is collaborating with the Mirabel Centre, a sexual assault and reference centre, at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, to provide assistance to rape survivors without divulging their secrets.
She further disclosed that all rape and sexual assault survivors can access free forensic medical and counseling services at the centre, this is in addition to a Transit Home at Ayobo/Ipaja LCDA established by the government to provide shelter for victims of domestic violence and Human Trafficking for a period of six weeks to six months.
According to her, “This Transit Home, which is been managed by WAPA and a non-Governmental Organisation -The Women Helping Hand Initiative, provides shelter for survivors for a maximum of six months, but in exceptional cases, for more than that especially if their cases are still in court or during the process of reconciliation and integration of survivors with their families.
They are also empowered through the tuition-free skill acquisition training programme of the Ministry”.
She also averred that the State’s 22 Skill Acquisition Centres spread across the 3 Senatorial Districts of the State were partly created to ensure financial independence for women.
“These Centres have continued to mitigate the effects of poverty, frustration, aggression and criminal tendencies emanating largely from unemployment she and poor economic situation in the country”, she said stressing that since inception the centres have brought economic turn-around to the lives of more than 45,000 Lagosians.
She however implored kindhearted individuals, private and public organisations to partner with the government in its quest to alleviate the suffering of women and improve their general well-being as well as that of the girl child.