A coalition of women organisations in Bayelsa State, on Tuesday, protested against the increasing cases of rape and other gender-based violence in the state.
The coalition, under the aegis of the Gender Response Initiative Team, raised the alarm during their protest march that no fewer than 58 cases were reported in two months of the Covid-19 lockdown.
The protesting women marched through the popular Mbiama-Yenagoa road, displaying different placards.
The inscriptions on some of them read, ‘Stop the violence against women’, ‘Say NO to Rape’, Rape a girl, rape a nation’ , among others.
They finally stopped at the Bayelsa State House or Assembly complex to express their grievances to the lawmakers.
They also made a clarion call to the lawmakers to domesticate the Violence Against Person Prohibition Law passed by the National Assembly since 2015.
Speaking after the protest march, the Convener of GRIT, Mrs Maria Olodi, said the state needed proactive measures to curb the rising cases of rape, sexual assaults, gender-based violence and other crimes against the girl-child and women.
Olodi, who spoke on the premises of the state Assembly, said recently three underage girls of between 13 and 14 years were raped in the state while many unreported cases still abound.
She called on the lawmakers to domesticate the Violence Against Person Prohibition law passed by the National Assembly since 2015.
She said, “We are here to present our case before the state House of Assembly. There has been an upsurge in gender-based violence in the country and Bayelsa State is not an exception.
“It got to its peak during the lockdown wherein over 58 cases of gender based violence was reported in Bayelsa State. That means that those that were not reported can be more than these.
“The fact remains that gender-based violence is taking another turn in the country and that’s why there is the need to check the trends to make sure it does not uproot the society.
“Taking into cognisance that the moral decadence is high in the society today, there is something we can do about it and that’s is why this team has taken it upon itself to come and see you today because you are a critical stakeholder in the fight against gender-based violence.
“Bayelsa State needs proactive measures to curb the rising cases of gender-based violence. Just two days ago, a 13-year-old girl was raped in Bayelsa. In May alone we had two rape cases involving 14 years old girls. Now, these cases are not isolated because they have become a trend in the state.
“In 2015, the National Assembly passed the Violence Against Person Prohibition (VAPP) into law and it’s been five years, some states have domesticated it but Bayelsa is yet to domesticate that law. Giving the peculiarity of each state, various state has finetuned it to suit their demands.”
Responding, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Abraham Ngobere, said the House had already set in motion modalities to domesticate the law for the benefits of all Bayelsans.
Represented by the member representing Yenagoa 2 Constituency, Mrs Koko Obiyai, the Speaker said the fight against gender violence was a collective responsibility of the people in the society.
He, therefore, urged parents and guardians to always guide their children and wards.
Also speaking, the wife of the state a governor, Gloria Douye, who powered the group, said the fight against the sexual abuses, rape and violence against women must be fought vigorously and vibrantly.
She encouraged the group not to relent in their fight against violence, saying that it was just the beginning until the law is passed to tackle the menace in the state.