The Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) at the weekend engaged Traditional rulers in the state on Sexual and Gender Based Violence and their role as Responders as a furtherance to its campaign against the dastardly act. Coordinator of DSVRT, Mrs. Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi who led the team to the meeting which had the Oba of Lagos, His Royal Majesty, Oba Rilwanu Akiolu and 30 other Obas in the state in attendance said as traditional rulers, the counsel they give to victims of rape, defilement and domestic violence and their family members can go a long way in making or marring a case. She said, “This engagement was premised on the Governor’s desire to engage members of the community and relevant stakeholders about these crimes, enlighten them on the impact on the victim and the society and in most communities where these acts are being perpetrated, the first responders are usually traditional rulers. “There have been several instances where victims have said that traditional rulers and other opinion leaders, who they hold in high regard, had convinced them in settling their matter out of court. The fact that these are crimes and the decision to discontinue a case can only be taken by the Attorney General was reiterated at the meeting”. She said as first time responders, the traditional rulers Highness were given Protocol responses to rape, defilement, domestic violence, child abuse and neglect.
“In instances of domestic violence, the response should not be to ask victims to return back to the home where the abuse has occurred, but rather refer them to a safe haven (e.g. shelter home, or trusted family member). Whilst for rape, the first step should be to refer the victim to the hospital where the victim can be treated and the evidence of the crime preserved”.
Vivour-Adeniyi said the traditional rulers were also given resource materials in the form of posters and stickers, which they promised, will be shared at their respective palaces.
“It is believed that after this engagement, we would begin to see an improved partnership with traditional rulers especially as regards reporting of these crimes, an improved community response in handling reports and ultimately, a reduction in the commission of these crimes as community members will now know that out of court settlements will no longer be permissible”, she said.