Following the rising cases of sexual and gender based violence in Rivers State, an European Union-funded organisation, Agents for Citizen-driven Transformation (EU-ACT) has partnered 200 civil society organisations to mitigate the menace in Rivers and nine other state in the country.
The group said the partnership was aimed at constructively engaging stakeholders in the onslaught against sexual and gender based violence.
Speaking during a high-level stakeholders dialogue for the review of sexual and gender based violence implementation mechanisms in Rivers State, which held in Port Harcourt on Monday, the Focal Person, EU-ACT, Rivers State, Temple Oraeki, said the partnership would engender a more robust approach in ending the menace.
Oraeki said, “This dialogue session offers a crucial opportunity for us to strengthen our implementation mechanisms that will ultimately lead to a safer and more secure environment for all.
“This year’s theme is very unique in the sense that it calls for proactive measures to stop Sexual Gender-Based Violence rather than being reactive after it has already happened.
“I am optimistic that today’s dialogue will result in actionable outcomes and concrete steps towards preventing SGBV and ultimately ensuring a safer future for women and girls in Rivers State.”
Also speaking, the Coordinator, Rivers State Response Team on Violence Against Women and Children, Tombari Dumka-Kote, stated that his organisation had since 2019 handled over 3000 cases of sexual and gender based violence in Rivers State, adding that it has handled 183 cases in 2023.
Dumka-Kote, also sought the expeditiously handling of sexual and gender based violence cases within three months, called for the establishment of special courts.
“So far our team has handled 3000 cases of sexual and gender based violence between 2019 till date. This year alone, we have recorded so far 183 cases of sexual and gender based violence.
“While the incidents of sexual and gender based violence especially as it relates to ritual killings and mutilations of body parts of victims and survivors alike are on the rise in the state.
“We feel that the justice system needs to improved upon where we have special court been created that is our prayer to the governor of Rivers State so that cases of sexual violence would be tried and ended within a period of three months, it shouldn’t exceed that like what is done with political cases.
“That way access to justice would be easy for survivors and victims so prolonged cases which usually make survivors lose interest and their families lose interest in the justice system and in our courts.”
On her part, the Executive Director, TalkLove Africa Foundation, Cynthia Obinwanne, stated that the event was part of a 16 days activism programme against sexual and gender based violence against women and girls, an annual global civil society campaign.
Obinwanne said, “It is important to note that though many countries have passed laws to combat violence against women, an estimated number of 736 million women, which means almost 1 in three women have been subjected to either physical or other forms of violence.
“However, we strongly believe that violence against women and girls is preventable, hence the essence of this high level stakeholders dialogue for the review of sexual and gender based violence mechanisms in Rivers State.”