No fewer than seventeen cases of child abuse have been reported in Oyo State between March and June 2020, with victims in the range of one and 17 years of age.
The Chairman, Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Inclusion’s Rapid Response Team on Sexual, Gender-Based Violence and Child Abuse, Pastor Marcus Williams, made the disclosure while presenting his report on the practical and technical activities of the team within the last three months of its inauguration, at the Conference Room of the Ministry on Thursday.
The presentation analyzed cases reported, swift responses, rescue, protection, care, maximum support, as well as alternative shelters provided by the Team to survivors.
Mr. Williams noted that the survivors in the period under review include three males and 14 females, explaining that part of the mandates of the Team was to prevent and protect vulnerable people, irrespective of gender and age, from violence and other ill-treatment, through a holistic multi-sectoral and child-centered practice response.
He said the move had increased the number of children that enjoyed democratic dividends, access to free health care and education, and had their rights upheld in Oyo State, explaining that incomplete information of violence against survivors and most times, reports that were inaccurate, hindered swift responses in most cases.
Williams noted further that the unavailability of sufficient responders, cultural values, and pressure from families of the survivors limited the extent of prosecuting the offenders.
Earlier in her remarks, the Oyo State Commissioner for the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Inclusion, Mrs. Faosat Sanni, who spoke through the Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Christiana Abioye, appreciated the efforts of the Team for the swift responses, stressing that most of the cases reported happened during the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
She revealed that security agencies and Non-Governmental Organisations have been collaborating with the Ministry to ensure that cases of rape and gender-based violence were dealt with accordingly while frowning at the way some private radio stations and On-Air Personalities report sexual, gender-based violence and child abuse cases.
Sanni noted, “The majority of them are biased and not objective in their reports; they allow emotions to override professionalism of balancing whatever stories they heard through proper investigations and enquiring from the Ministry and appropriate agencies before publicizing it, especially through various social media handles.”
She, therefore, admonished philanthropists who have the passion to care and advocate the cause of survivors and the less-privileged to follow due process of registration, as the Oyo State government would not spare anyone jeopardizing its efforts.
The meeting, which also served as a case conference, reintegrated a 13-year-old girl, Anuoluwapo Ayodele, with her family.
Anuoluwapo, the only child of her parents, lived with her father, Mr. Samuel Ayodele, a 67-year-old farmer at Imota, in Ikorodu Area of Lagos State, but came to Oke-Ado Area of Ibadan with a 30-year-old man who promised to take her to where her mother lived.
Narrating her story, she lamented, “I always asked my father about my mother’s whereabouts, but he never told me the truth that my mother is dead. When I saw someone who promised to take me to my mother I was very happy to follow him because I had always desired to know my mother, not knowing that the man had evil plans for me.”
Handing Anuoluwapo over to her paternal aunt, Mrs. Yemi Abayomi, a 43-year-old trader, in the presence of other family members, the Chairman of the Team, Pastor Williams described Anuoluwapo as a promising and bold child who fought the perpetrator to ensure that he did not take advantage of her while he left the young girl with series of wounds and bruises on her body.
He stated further that, she was rescued during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and was immediately placed on isolation in one of the alternative shelters, for proper care.
He charged the guardians to treat her like their biological daughter in order to ease the trauma she went through.
Similarly, another case of rape was reported of a 13-year-old girl, (names withheld), who lived with her paternal grandmother at Ijaye village, Atan, Iwinsola Moniya, Ibadan.
The alleged perpetrator, Usman Raji, a 16-year-old boy has been arrested for further investigation while the girl has been taken to Adeoyo State Hospital, Yemetu, Ibadan, for further examinations and proper treatment as she claimed to have been bleeding through her private part since the incident happened.
An alternative shelter has also been provided for her to ease the burden of her trauma.