Gender Advocacy groups in Bayelsa State on Tuesday embarked on road walk to the headquarters of the Nigerian Police Force and the Federal Medical Center (FMC), advocating for the speedy prosecution of perpetrators of violence against women.
They also called on the management of the Federal Medical Center (FMC) to also speedily attend to victims of domestic violence in the state.
The Chairperson of the Bayelsa State Gender Response Initiative Team, Barr. Dise Goddy Harry, while speaking at the office of the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ben Okolo, said the visit to the Police Commissioner’s office was part of activities to mark the International Women’s Day Celebration as well as to commend him for supporting the fight against gender-based violence in the society.
She however appealed to the Police Commissioner to intervene and expedite action on some pending and outstanding cases of defilement and abuse brought before the police, noting that the continuous delay of prosecution by offenders is damping the confidence of victims.
Chief Collins Cocodia, said the visit was to thank Mr. Ben Okolo, the State Police Commissioner for being an advocate for women and equally appealed to him to uses his office in ensuring that offenders are prosecuted.
The group also visited the women’s ward at the Federal Medical Centre, FMC in Yenagoa, were they donated toiletries as well as other items to the women.
The State Commissioner of Police, Ben Okolo while recieving the gender advocacy groups, assured that one of the priorities of its officers and men is to be gender sensitive, noting that anything that would constitute violence against women is not tolerated by the force.
Okolo also commended the various women advocacy groups for the fight against gender sensitive activities in the society, however urged them to advice victims to pursue their cases to logical conclusion, noting that it would serve as a deterrent to prospective offenders.
The groups, made up of the Collins Cocodia Foundation, Do Foundation International, End violence against women ( EVAW), Starrz Safety Initiatives, TiminipreCareinitiative, Association Against Sexual and Gender Based Violence, the Bayelsa State Gender Response Initiative Team(GRIT) and Nigeria Bar Association Women Forum Bayelsa State chapter, also visited the women’s ward at the Federal Medical Centre, FMC in Yenagoa, were they donated toiletries as well as other items to the women.
Speaking to newsmen, Dr. Obioma Obikeze, a Consultant/ Public Care Physician and Acting Head of Clinical Services FMC, expressed gratitude to the Collins Cocodia Foundation, DO Foundation as well as its other partners for visiting the hospital.
He said their visit has changed his perception of the advocacy for the right of women in Bayelsa State, noting that as a medical practitioner in the state for over 20 years, he has received various cases of violation of minors and each time these cases are reported to the police, family members of the violators always go behind to pay money and these cases will be dropped.
According to Dr. Obikeze, he has even testified in court with evidence severally only to be told that the cases have been settled out of court, but however expressed optimism that with the intervention of advocacy groups, offenders will know that there are consequences which would serve as a deterrent and victims can be assured of justice when offended.
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