The Bayelsa State Government has established a family Court in the State to ensure accelerated hearing on cases of child rape, violence against women and children, child trafficking and kidnapping and child custody dispute.
The Court, which has already resumed sitting, has an appointed High Court Judge and Magistrate by the State Judiciary.
Confirming the development at the weekend in Yenagoa, the Chairperson of the International Federation of Women Lawyers, Barr.Dose Sheila Ogbise-Erhisere, said the establishment of the Family Court will accelerate prosecution of perpetrators of violence against children and women in the state.
Ogbise-Erhisere ,who commended the State Government and the State Judiciary over the existence of the Family Court, said it has been discovered that the Police and many indigenes of the State are not aware of the existence of the Court.
According to her, ” the family Court is now operational. But the challenge is that a lot of people don’t know that we have such court in place. The Court is already sitting with a magistrate and a High Court Judge. But people seems not to be aware that they can seek quick justice in the family Court. ”
She said the FIDA will support the State Judiciary to ensure that issues of child trafficking, kidnapping, theft and sexual violation are headed for quick dispensation of Justice, “the advantage of the Family Court is that of privacy is guaranteed issue of publicity is not there and the child will be protected from Media and Camera because of privacy needed by the kids.”
Barr.Dose Sheila Ogbise-Erhisere, whose leadership of the Bayelsa State chapter of the International Federation of Women Lawyers, (FIDA) has witnessed over 30 per cent conviction of perpetrators of violence against women and children in the state, however expressed concern over the non-existwnce of child care homes and juvenile homes in the state.
While she said the needed child care homes will encourage a better future for victims of rape and sexual abuses, the juvenile homes will ensure that teenagers who have had a rough brush with the law are rehabilitated and integrated into the society.
According to Ogbise-Erhisere,”most of the victims are not getting the kind of support needed. More children homes needed to be built. Thank God for the last Ministerial briefings where the Commissioner for Women Affairs announced that the State Government has secured a site to build a home. ”
“It is our desire to speed up the building. We have had cases of violation that involved a father abusing the child. And such victim are sent back to such hostile environment. It is bad. They should have been supported because of issues of stigmatization. There is a case of a girl that was defiled by her father. Issues came and all that, she was released to her mother.”
“As I speak with you, the girl has dropped out of school and she is pregnant for another adult not her father. Those are the challenges of those defiledgirls faces. If these houses are not built quickly for victims,a lot of things may go wrong. “
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