LAGOS STATE OPENS FOUR NEW COURTS FOR SPECIAL AND SEXUAL OFFENCES

LAGOS STATE OPENS FOUR NEW COURTS FOR SPECIAL AND SEXUAL OFFENCES

In 2015, UNICEF reported that one in four girls and one in ten boys in Nigeria experience sexual violence before the age of 18. And according to a survey by Positive Action for Treatment Access, over 31.4 percent of girls surveyed said their first sexual encounter had been rape or forced sex of some kind. Narrowing it down a little, in Lagos, the number of reported sexual assault victims increased by 100% between 2006 and 2015; and between 2015 and 2017, it went up by 200%.

(Photo: Premium Times)

But the Lagos State government, thankfully, looks like it is taking a definite stand against sexual assault and related offences. Yesterday, four Special Offences and Sexual Offences courts were commissioned in Lagos by the wife of the Vice President, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo, the state’s Deputy Governor Idiat Adebule, and the Lagos State First Lady, Mrs Bolanle Ambode. Two of the courts will adjudicate on economic and financial crimes, while the other two will try sexual offences. The state is also working on expanding the operations of the DNA and Forensic Centre and Chemistry section.

If you’re wondering why this is huge news, it’s because this is the first of its kind in Nigeria. That’s right, after 58 years of existence, Nigeria (the government) has yet to take sexual offences seriously. Between 2015 and now, the DSVRT and Mirabel Centre (both in Lagos) have handled over 400 cases of sexual offences while 376 cases are being prosecuted in the various courts. And, there are currently about 600 pending sexual offense cases in the high court of Lagos, not including the ones in the Magistrate courts.

Dedicated courts for sexual crimes are now more mandatory than ever. The hope that we all have is that one, the establishment of these courts will facilitate faster hearing and trial of sexual crimes and get survivors justice and closure; two, that this will jumpstart a nationwide establishment of special courts like these; and three (this the most important), that the judges who hear these sexual cases will really not be the kinds who will blame the victim.

But more than anything, thank you, Lagos. Other states need to absolutely follow.

 

Culled from konbini.com

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