y Felicia Imohimi
Abuja – Oxfam Nigeria a Non Governmental Organisation has called for specialised training for judges, legal practitioners and the police to curb rape, assault and other violence against women and children in the country.
Mr Constant Tchona, Oxfam Nigeria, Country Director, stated this in Abuja on Wednesday at a stakeholder’s dialogue organised with the theme: ‘Enough, together we can end violence against women and children’.
He noted that the dialogue was part of the organisation’s activities to mark 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence (GBV).
Tchona, represented by Mrs Ramatu Bako, Oxfam Head of Influencing, Advocacy Engagement, frowned at the manner gender based violence cases were being handled by the judiciary and the police, due to lack of knowledge on how to tackle such cases.
He emphasised that, rather than addressing issues amicably by ensuring justice for victims and adequate punishment on the perpetrators, victims were often victimised; thereby compounding their problems.
Tchona noted that adequate and specialised training would go a long way in reducing incidences of sexual violence, assaults, among others.
According to him, when such cases occurred, they will know what to do at every point and the exact punishment for such offences; and if perpetrators are dealt with it will serve as deterrent to others having such intentions.
“The judiciary, the police and the legal practitioners need specialised training so that when issues of violence come before them, they will know how to handle it without striping victims of their dignity in any manner.
“As a result of that, we need to engage with this people that work in this specialised field to understand, because we have situations where judges, instead of ameliorating the plights of victims, they dive into morality.
“They go into victimising the victims by asking ‘why did you wear this dress? Why did you go to that place?’ This kind of thing is very upsetting, because people react in different ways.
“It is not the responsibility of the judge to ask these questions. They are supposed to look at the merit of the case. If sexual assault happens, is it wrong? They are to examine what the law says in this respect and give judgment.
“The challenge we have in the country is that basically we have not reached the level of understanding how to handle issues of this nature, because sexual and gender base violence comes in different forms.
“It’s not just the act of beating somebody else; it has profound emotional, psychological, mental, physiological, biological and even social effects on both the victims and also the perpetrators,” he said.