Oyo State govt vows to prosecute sexual offenders

Oyo State Government has vowed to prosecute perpetrators of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV).

The state’s Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Inclusion, Toyin Balogun, gave the warning during a one-day stakeholders’ sensitisation meeting on SGBV and COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Project (CoPREP) held at the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovative Studies, Awolowo Road, Bodija, Ibadan.

She reiterated that under the existing laws in the state, there is no hidden place for perpetrators of such preposterous act.

Balogun said that Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law (VAPP), Sexual and Gender-Based Agency/Referral Centre Laws had been signed into law, hence perpetrators of SGBV in the state are punishable under these existing laws.

The commissioner said: “As policy-makers, we should not be onlookers but social architects striving for systemic change to ensure that all perpetrators are held accountable through fair and effective legal systems, regardless of their social status or position of power.”

Balogun said that the SGBV knows no boundary as it affects people of all ages, genders, sexual orientations and socio-economic backgrounds and is a violation of human rights and dignity, which thrives in an environment where inequalities, determination and impunity exist.

She said that victims must be supported with healthcare, legal aids, counselling and safer shelter.

Besides, Balogun said that silence and stigma surrounding SGBV should be broken to ensure that victims are met with belief, validation and support when they come forward.

Earlier in her address, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Dolapo Popoola, charged all participating stakeholders to unite in a shared mission to equip themselves with the knowledge, tools and compassion needed to combat these harmful practices and injustice.

“With oneness, we can build safer communities and advocate for the dignity and well-being of all individuals,” she said.

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