Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode on Tuesday urged residents in the state not to be afraid to speak out against sexual and domestic violence, saying that it was the first step to waging a war against perpetrators of the act.
The governor who spoke when he received the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team at the Lagos House, Alausa, Ikeja, assured that the state government is ready to protect the identities of those who volunteer to report cases of domestic abuse and sexual violence.
“We just want to appeal to all Lagosians, they should not be afraid to speak out, we have our dedicated lines and we also know that we are going to give resources out, at any point in time they should be ready to speak freely to us.
“We would protect the identities of everyone and the fact is that we should be the first point of call before we know the particular police station that we want our cases to go to”, he said.
Governor Ambode who expressed concern about the rampant cases of rape and domestic violence, also promised to put in place an institutional framework that will make the Lagos State Domestic Violence Law 2007 viable, saying that he will stop at nothing to protect the interest of women and children in the state.
“One of my cardinal programmes in the course of the campaign was that I was going to stand up for everyone and standing up for everyone is actually standing up for women and children.
“These groups in our society are more or less vulnerable and the weakest part of the chain in the society. So, we need an institutional framework, we also need to create institutions that can stand up and support them.
“The society has always been very uncharitable towards issues that relate to children and to women. Lagos State in 2007, we did pass a law on domestic violence.
“But again beyond that, the law cannot work by itself except we create the framework that enforces our laws, that is what we are standing for and in that respect, we talked about issues that relate to sexual and gender violence”, he said.
Charging the team to fashion out strategies towards arresting the trend, Governor Ambode also assured that his administration will give adequate support to them, noting that the Law cannot work by itself except those who are saddled with the responsibility of enforcing it rise to the occasion.
“In 2007, Lagos State passed a law on domestic violence. But again beyond that, the law cannot work by itself except we create the framework that enforces our laws, that is what we are standing for and in that respect, we talked about issues that relate to sexual and gender violence.
“What I want to let you know is that together whatever it is that we need to now reach out in a larger way and give support to those who have been victims, we have to go out there and let them know they have our support.
“That’s what we are going to do together. This government will strongly enforce our laws, we would also continue in the tradition of the past administration and improve on everything that has been done in relation to gender violence and sexual abuse”.
He urged the team to pay emphasis to public awareness and enlightenment so as to ensure that victims know that the law is there to protect them as well as a government willing to ensure that justice is served.