By John Kayode
A group, Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), has called on government to provide safe and conducive environment that would protect children from all forms of abuse.
WFD, a United Kingdom democracy-strengthening organisation, stated this on Wednesday in Akure, during a meeting with representatives of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the state.
The Foundation’s Country Representative in Nigeria, Mr Adebowale Olorunmola, at the event sensitised stakeholders on the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAAP) Law and the drafted Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy in the state.
Olorunmola, explained that the Foundation was working in collaboration with the Ondo State Agency Against Gender-Based Violence (OSAA GBV) at ensuring that all residents are aware and understand the content of the law and the policy.
“This is a continuation of the efforts at advancing the process of implementation.
“The participants here today are from the various and relevant agencies that are going to be working together to implement not only the VAPP law, but the draft Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy when it is eventually assented to by Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu.
“So, what we are doing here is to sensitise ourselves about the content of VAPP law and the content of the draft Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy.
“We are also looking at the modalities to ensure that we don’t just have the policy for policy sake and law for law sake, but getting to be useable and useful at the grassroots, particularly in reaching the intended target, which is the young people and the most vulnerable in the society.
“According to UNICEF, in Nigeria, one out of four girls and one in 10 boys experience sexual violence before the age of 18; hence the need to work together as stakeholders to reverse the anomaly,” he said.
Contributing, the Special Adviser to the governor on Gender, Mrs Olamide Falana, charged the stakeholders to work in synergy with WFD and OSAA-GBV to protect children and other vulnerable persons in the state.
“Children are the universal symbol of future potentials, as well as the carrier of the heritage of the past, society and nation, hence, concerted efforts must be geared towards investing heavily in their development,” she said.
On his part, the Executive Director of Ondo State Agency Against Gender-Based Violence (OSAA-GBV), Mrs Bolanle Afolabi, said that the parley would enhance the sensitisation programme already started by the agency.
Afolabi said that the next sensitisation programme would be at Ode-Irele in Irele Local Government and Ikare-Akoko in Akoko North-East Local Government.
She added that the people of Iju/Itagolu in Akure North Local Government Area, would also be educated about the VAPP Law and the Child Safeguarding Policy.