Kaduna, Stakeholders Establish Sexual Offences Register, says Commissioner
By Uangbaoje Alex, Kaduna
Kaduna State Government has disclosed that she is collaborating with other stakeholders in the establishment of a sexual offences register as part of measures to reduce violence against women, especially rape.
Commissioner, Human Services and Social Development (HSSD), Hajiya Hafsat Mohammed-Baba made the disclosure on Tuesday during an interview at the sideline of a two-day knowledge enhancement (action learning) workshop on the implementation of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) 2018 and Gender Equal Opportunity (GEO) bill in the state organized by the Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA).
WRAPA, with support from Africa Women Development Fund (AWDF), is implementing Legal and Social Empowerment Program on Women’s Right” in Kaduna and Plateau States.
She said, critical stakeholders are currently developing the register which will enable the state government to put the names and pictures of perpetrators of sexual offences on public platforms upon court judgement to serve as a deterrent to others.
According to the Commissioner, creating awareness and full implementation of VAPP law will help a lot in addressing gender-based violence in the state noting that, training the implementers of this law is equally important, especially those that are saddled with the dispensation of justice.
“The ministry has been working collaboratively with other stakeholders including other MDAs, civil society organisations, the media and development partners because it has become everybody’s business to reduce violence against all persons in Kaduna state.
“Again, we have established family courts in the state so the cases in our regular courts could be strongest and at the same time get penalties for offenders and rewards for victims or survival as the case may be.
“As we speak, there is an organisation working with the ministry to establish a sex offences register where we are going to be putting the pictures and names and other details of perpetrators once we secure judgement from the court. We are working with the security agencies and MDAs line so we can get this sex offence registered ready”, she said.
She then appealed to respective stakeholders in the administration of criminal justice to stop granting bail to sexual offences perpetrators.
“I am not a lawyer but we have learnt that violence against a person like rape is not a bailable offence. But we have found out that some of these perpetrators are being granted bail.
“That is why we are asking that let them look at it very well so the people who are being violated are confident that they are going to get justice. It is sad when a child is violated and people see the perpetrator working freely because he’s on bail.
“But then, I strongly believe that with the establishment of family courts in the three geopolitical zones, we will not be seeing the perpetrators working freely in the streets any longer”, she added.
She added a perspective to the workshop, Justice Edward Andrew, Kaduna State High Court of Justice, appreciated the organisers of the workshop describing it as “timely”.
“This discourse is very timely. For some time, there has been an astronomical rise in cases of gender and sexual violence not only in Kaduna State but globally. For us, there is no better time to address this issue than now.
“Of course, we need to increase awareness of these cases because they are on the increase especially now that we have laws meant to address these issues as well as getting the stakeholders to know their responsibilities and raise their responsibilities on how to address the issues we are faced with.
“The penal code we have before was limited in scope particularly when you define the offence of rape. The VAPP law is expansive because it captures rape as penetration of any opening in the body not only the female genitals as the case with homosexuals which is a welcome development.
“So, the penalties in VAPP law are stiffer and the aim is to increase deterrence. To that extent, I will say the VAPP law has done a lot in addressing our emerging societal vices”, he said.
On her part, State Project Officer, WRAPA Barrister Bukola Ajao said, “this is an ongoing project by Women’s Right Advancement Protection Alternative (WRAPA) funded by African Women Development Fund.
“So today, we have been able to draw our participants from the judiciary to discuss how we can implement VAPP law 2018 better. Is the court using it? Are the ministers in the temple of justice using this law? This is why participants include judges of the high court, sharia court judges, customary court judges, commissioner for HSSD, civil society organisations, and the media.
“The main aim of this meeting today is to look at where this law is in the sense of implementation. Can we say we have moved forward from the law being signed to another level? Of course, the ministry of Justice is already using this law which means we are making progress”.