Mr Kebe Ikpi, Acting Coordinator, Child Protection Network of Nigeria, Cross River Chapter, has advised security officials to stop proposing out-of-court settlement for cases of Gender Based Violence (GBV).
Ikpi gave the advice in Calabar during the second batch of a three-day training, organised by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for officers of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, (NSCDC).
The training, which began on May 18, was to enhance the capacity of the Corps in the state in handling issues of GBV.
The official said cases where officers encouraged family members to go and settle rape cases at home, calling it a family matter because it was perpetrated by a family member, should not happen.
“When cases of GBV are made known to you as an officer, you should not for any reason encourage or propose an out-of-court settlement because somebody’s life is at stake.
“If it is a social welfare case, it can be handled by the relevant government agencies such as the Ministry of Social Welfare who are trained to handle such cases.
“Referral is the bedrock of GBV services because no one partner can provide all the services required by a survivor which may include counseling, rehabilitation and others,” he said.
Similarly, Dr. Blessing Ntamu, a Psychologist with the GBV Centre in the Ministry of Women Affairs, Calabar, said the training was to prepare officers of NSCDC to provide psychosocial first aid for survivors as first responders.
“Without training, security officials would treat survivors of GBV like other suspect or criminals and compound their cases.
“This may even lead to depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorders and suicidal tendencies,,’ she said.
Ntamu added that while it was important to empower the girls, the boy child should not be neglected because the boys have to grow into better men if the issue of GBV must be effectively addressed.
SP Eremi John, who spoke on behalf of the trainees, said the training had boosted the capability of the corps in the state to handle and reduce cases of GBV.
He urged all, especially the men, to come out and speak up against GBV because if they were silent, their cases would not be heard and perpetrators would continue to go scot-free.
Also Ms Marija Rakovic, UNFPA Head of Office in Cross River, urged the participants to meet in their various commands and discuss how to commence implementation of what they learnt in the training.
According to her, GBV is still high in Cross River and no one can fight it alone without effective collaboration.