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GBV: Ikpeazu inaugurates sexual assault referral centre, sex offenders watchlist

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Abia State Government has concluded plans to set up a Sexual Assault Referral Centre, SARC and Sexual Offenders Watchlist which will become a one-stop answer to a lot of the challenges facing Gender-Based Violent, Gender-Based Violence (GBV), survivors in the state.

The Abia First Lady, Dr Nkechi Ikpeazu and chairman of state GBV Action Committee disclosed this in Umuahia during the closing ceremony of a three-day Capacity Strengthening Workshop on GBV Response, Multi-Sectorial Coordination, And Behavioral Change Communication for GBV Responders and Actors.

Mrs Ilpeazu said, “We are building a stronger response mechanism where victims/survivors are given medical, psychological, social and legal assistance so that they can overcome the sad experience and move on with their lives, stronger.”

According to her, “It is to be used by GBV caseworkers, desk officers, Incident Report Officers and approved service providers, to ensure there is no duplication of case response by caseworkers. This also enables us to have proper data analysis of cases reported and also ensure there are appropriate referral pathways and good case tracking. It helps with data gathering analysis as well as information sharing using acceptable safe protocols.”

The training, she said was “part of a deliberate effort to strengthen key stakeholders within our response system. The training focuses on multi-sectoral coordination and message development for social and behavioural change. The training also affords us the opportunity to release several critical documents that we will be using in the course of our work.”

While developing strategies that can be applied going forward based on TEAMWORK, Ikpeazu said “We must work as a team if we are to succeed in making our environment safer and empowering for women, men, children, young and old who are victims and survivors of gender-based violence.

On her achievement on GBV, the First lady highlighted her achievements so far to include the passage and signing of the VAPP Law, the restructuring of the State GBV Technical Committee/Working Group, the creation of the State GBV Action Committee and the setting up of a GBV Resource Centre.

Others, she said included “the establishment of a grassroots GVB response system through the Incidence Reporting Centres at the LGAs and the GBV Desk Officers.”

“We are also in the process of selecting and appointing Protection Officers including the full involvement of the LGA Chairpersons in the fight against GBV, the completion of the GBV Standard Operating Procedures and Training manuals, the completion of several Guidelines for doing work in the system, and the creation of a standardized Incident Reporting Template and Referral Forms that help index each case,” she added.

She stated the need to have a directory of registered service providers, and resources in the state and a Sexual Offenders Register, stating “So we are on the verge of setting up Sexual Offenders Watchlist which will be a classified document for use by GBV Actors and Responders so that we can track repeat offenders.

She further disclosed that she was working on the review of the Child Rights Law which was first introduced 15 years ago and due for review, stating, “We have also laid before the House several laws: a Bill Against Obnoxious Widowhood Practices; and the People Living with Disability Law. We are reintroducing the Equal Opportunities Bill has otherwise known A Bill for a Law for Equal Rights and Opportunities for Men, Women and Special Persons in Abia State.”

Also speaking, the Acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Rev. Jane Omereonye, said the workshop was to develop a stronger network to handle GBV in the state, stating that Abia is the first state in Nigeria to establish Desk officers on GBV, describing it “as a right step to conquer the issue in Abia.”

Earlier, the Technical Lead, Project Implementation, Mr Chika Ojiegbe said the workshop “was driven by the interest and action of the Abia First Lady on GBV”.

The participants included members of the State GBV Technical Committee, members of the state GBV Action committee as well as NGOs, CBOs and a cross-section of the media and the State Ministry of Women Affairs is also part of the training.

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