The Akwa Ibom State First Lady, Dr Martha Udom Emmanuel has warned the state police command against harassing and demanding money from victims of Gender Based Violence, GBV before their cases are attended to in the state.
She noted that such extortion and harassment have scared away other victims of GBV from speaking out and going to the police station to lodge their complaints.
Speaking during a courtesy visit on the Commissioner for Police, Akwa Ibom State, CP Andrew Amiengheme, with members of gender based violence management committee on Friday, the governor’s wife noted that demanding from victims who are already wounded and traumatized is act of insensitivity.
Dr Emmanuel told the commissioner that the essence of the courtesy visit was to sought partnership with the police on how to tackle GBV issues in the state even as she acknowledged the efforts and support of some police officers so far in addressing the menace.
The first lady also frowned at the situation where some police officers blame GBV victims by attributing their woes to their way of dressing and to some, their bad attitude at home in the case of married women.
She however reiterated the fact that all rape cases should be channeled to the family unit and not to be settled out of court even as she promised to present copies of the VAPP law to the command.
According to her, “We are here on a courtesy visit on behalf of gender based violence management committee, Akwa Ibom State, to look into cases of GBV in the state which you have been very supportive of. We’ve been fighting this menace over years now, especially cases of rape that has been on the high side, so far police most times have cooperated with us.
“We are here to officially tell you that we want to work with you and we want you to work with us. I’m saying this because there are some police stations in some local governments that are not friendly, I want you sir to have meeting with them and address this issue.
“They should not be demanding a ransom from these poor victims, no body should be demanding from somebody that is already wounded, they are already adding salt into injury. Also, settlement of rape cases and granting of bails should not be encouraged but it’s still going on, when they do that, these people will go out there and be bragging and it takes the intervention of another police man to rearrest them, it shouldn’t be like that, we should follow one guideline.
“The officers should empathize with the victims and give them succour, we have so many cases that when you go to the station to report, the officers will be like, why did you dress like that, where were you, why did you go there, all these things scare them, that is one of the reasons why people when you ask them to report they will tell you no.
“In the case of husband and wife; they will tell the woman, go back, go and settle with your husband. I know they can settle their matter at home but if somebody takes the stress of coming to the station to report, I think that person needs help and the case is beyond that person, and that harassment should not be there anymore.”
Responding, the Commissioner, CP Amiengheme thanked the First Lady for the visit and her campaign against all forms of GBV.
He gave reassurance that offenders would be made to face the law but noted that most rape victims were reluctant to come forward to pursue their cases when they are offered money blaming it on the high level of poverty in the state.
He said all the GBV cases in the state are channeled to the family unit of the command.
“It is a painful thing to see one’s sister been maltreated or raped, I want to assure you that since I came in, I’ve ensured that any GBV case is settled no other place than court.
“Some people go as far as petitioning the AIG, but the AIG does not interfere in such matters of GBV, he will tell you, make sure it goes to court”, he said.