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FG constitutes inter-Ministerial gender based panel against rape, sexual assault

The federal government would soon inaugurate an Inter-Ministerial Gender Based Violence Management Committee that will proffer lasting solutions to the prevalent and rising incidence of rape and sexual assault in the country.

Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, said in a statement on Thursday that the committee, which will “urgently address this heinous crime,” will comprise officials from the Federal Ministries of Justice, Women Affairs and Social Development and Health.

It will also comprise of the following agencies, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), National Human Rights Commission, Nigerian Legal Aid Council, Nigeria Police and Civil Society Organisations.

Malami noted that the committee “will be charged to proffer a synchronized approach to all address all forms of violence against women and children in the country; reviewing all the existing laws with a view to proposing to the National Assembly necessary legislative changes to ensure that the offences of rape and child defilement are dealt with in consonance with international best practices.

The committee will also “provide a comprehensive and appropriate support services to ensure that victims and survivors of sexual offences are not subjected to further stigmatization and trauma by maintaining a Sexual Assault Referral Centre which will be domiciled in the Federal Ministry of Justice Headquarters.”

Other tasks before the panel include the following:

  • Responding to immediate Gender Based Violence related issues;
  • Provision of rapid and comprehensive response through prosecution of all forms of violence against women and children;
  • Speedy processing of stalled and pending cases of rape and child defilement that got delayed due to closure of courts and government institutions during the COVID -19 lockdown period;
  • Reaffirming State policy of opposing bail and rejecting plea bargain proposals from perpetrators of rape and child defilement, and to also ensure that the Federal Government’s policy of ensuring that convicted sex offenders do not benefit from power of prerogative of mercy remains in force.

The Minister added that the Federal Ministry of Justice would bring together the 36 State’s Attorneys General to consider effective collaborative support to stem the growing tide of rape and sexual assault.

Malami noted that the meeting of the stakeholders including the States’ Attorneys General will be carried out through a scheduled virtual conference, in due course.

The constitution of the committee, the Minister said, has become imperative because “incidents of rape cases in the country have increased dramatically in the last few weeks, resulting in the brutal murder of some victims.”

Stating that this has “sparked outrage in the country and beyond,” Malami empathized with the victims, survivors and family members of rape and violence against women and girls, adding that the new move would tackle “these crimes against humanity” and create a “achieve a better Nigeria devoid of gender based violence.”

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