Speaking in a joint statement recently in a seminar titled, “Effects of Sexual Abuse on Women in Nigeria”, the groups resolved that, survivors of sexual abuse and other forms of gender-based violence must be heard and helped, not labeled and put down.
While commending Busola Dakolo for exercising the will and courage to commence a civil suit against the alleged Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo of Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA) violently abused and raped her some years ago.
According to the groups in a joint statement including Project Alert, Women Advocates, Research and Documentation Centre, WARDC, Alliances for Africa and Stand to End Rape Initiative, STER, said that, “By taking the matter before a competent court for adjudication, she exemplifies the courage needed by victims to deal with their ordeal and face the perpetrators of such evils.
“We are hopeful that her leap of faith and confidence in the court, the commoners’ last hope, would be rewarded by justice and relative remedy to a violent, irreparable wrong wrought against her.
“The pains and sincerity of her cause is clear and earns our support and encouragement. Her reliefs and prayers before the court reveal her genuine desire for justice and fairness to right an apparent wrong.
“We are conscious of the duty of the court to carry out its adjudication of the matter and duly demand that its judgment must respect neither person nor status. The matter before it is one which has rightly generated reaction and drawn interest from the public. The decision of the court which must be reached through a thorough and unbiased consideration of the facts and evidence before it will become a landmark decision in further infractions bearing the same features”, it explained.
The groups also called on Nigeria Police Force to swiftly finalize its investigation and make the report of the same available to the public. The investigation must be unprejudiced and impartial, having as its objective the discerning of the truth and unearthing unknown facts about what happened to Busola Dakolo to advance the interest of justice and equity.
“We appeal to all Nigerians to support all processes that may lead to justice in this matter. It is pertinent that we encourage and support sexual abuse survivors to speak out and seek help. We cannot just sit back and fold our arms while innocent people are subject to this kind of abuse and degradation. An injustice to one woman is an injustice to all women.
“As a society, we must stop victimizing the survivor by pushing forth narratives that place the blame on them or seek to excuse the abuser. We have a moral duty to provide a safe place for survivors to speak out, and an easily accessible means to get help. Let’s hold their hands and give them the courage and strength to conquer and, most importantly, lead them through the process of justice”, it added.