The training workshop for Law Enforcement Agents was held in three states Osun (19th – 20th October 2017 at the Leisure Spring Hotel, Osogbo), Ekiti (30th – 31st October 2017 at the Pathfinder Hotel, Ado Ekiti) and Oyo (7th – 8th November 2017 at the Premier Hotel, Ibadan). It was organised by the Centre for Women’s Health and Information (CEWHIN), a non- governmental organisation based in Lagos in collaboration with the Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre (CIRDDOC) and with support from The UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme on Accelerating the Abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM/C).
The three workshops had in attendance 98 participants (33 males, 65 females) drawn from Nigerian Police Force (NPF) and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) at the State and Local Government levels. The training workshops were designed to create a platform for officers of the Nigeria Police and the Civil Defence to learn about gender based violence especially FGM/C and the existing relevant state laws, as well as how to effectively implement such laws.
The training workshops were fully supported by the state government in each of the locations. This was demonstrated by the high level representation of the state executives at the opening ceremonies in the three states. In Osun state the Commissioner for Health and the representative of the commissioner for women affairs were in attendance. In Ekiti state, the commissioner for women affairs, social development and gender empowerment and social welfare was represented by the permanent secretary of the ministry – Mrs. Peju Babafemi and in Oyo state, the commissioner for women Affairs as well as representatives of the commissioner for justice and health were also in attendance. In emphasising the importance of the training workshop, the commissioner for women affairs, Oyo state observed that it was indeed a welcome development that the Police and Civil Defence were being equipped with skills for effective enforcement of the law considering the vital role that law enforcement agencies play in the enforcement of laws in the land. This major activity, she said will build on all previous efforts of the ministry and other Stakeholders in the state over the years in trying to ensure that the harmful traditional practice become a thing of the past.
Sessions held during the 2-day training covered topics such as FGM/C: Clinical Experiences, Understanding FGM/C as an issue of Gender Based Violence, Human Rights and FGM, Legal definitions/elements of the offence of (FGM/C), Statutory criminalization of FGM/C – Criminal offences that emanates from the FGM/C practice, Overview of Female Genital UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme on Accelerating the Abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM/C)
Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) and the National response, good practice from other countries on law enforcement and judicial activism on FGM/C abandonment gender mainstreaming. Participants at the workshops developed action plans towards promoting the enforcement of laws on the practice of FGM/C in the states etc. Some of the pertinent issues raised are pervasive negative social norms of which FGM/C is a major one, poor understanding of gender among law enforcement agents, and the role of law enforcement agents in the promotion of the abandonment of FGM/C.
The training workshops were the first of such for many of the participants. The officers noted that they are now aware of the content of the law and the ills of the practice and are ready to enforce the law by ensuring that anyone who contravenes the law is prosecuted. The following are highlights of the follow-up actions that the participants agreed to carry out:
- Debrief superior officers and submit a report at monthly meeting of DEOs and Heads of Units
- Distribution of copies of the relevant sections of the FGM/C legislation to senior police officers
- Organise 2-day step-down training for fellow officers
- Cooperate and form a team to work on FGM
- appoint a desk officer Create a specialized anti-FGM/C squad. The squad will workthrough the Anti-trafficking and Child Protection Unit of NSCDC
- Advocacy for senior security officers to handle all forms of GBV or FGM
- Collaboration of the security agencies with midwives and the communities on FGM
- Disseminate information to members of the Police Community Relations Corps(PCRC) at the monthly stakeholders meeting
- Surveillance among the civilians i.e. the organisations train people as an informant onFGM; Surveillance to know those perpetrating the evil in society – make people ourfriends
- Prosecution of offenders (any apprehended offender must be prosecuted)
- Inter-agency synergy –step down training
- Mainstreaming of FGM/C into sharing into HIV education and other publicinformation sharing sessions
- Attend meetings of different religious, traditional and trade groups to createawareness on FGM/C laws and penalties
- Enforcement agents taking a stand not to compromise and let offenders go-unpunished
Participant’s recommendations from the three meetings are:
- For things to begin to happen in the two agencies, participants noted that they had to get approval from their superiors. Participants suggested that a meeting be held with the decision making rank of both forces.
- A WhatsApp group for exchanging reports and ideas amongst all participants was set up in the different states
- Investigation must be thoroughly carried out
The judges should also stand on their feet by not delaying the judgement and takingmoney from the complainant and suspectFollowing the workshops some of the participants took the following steps:
- Internal lecture and training of NSCDC officers in Olorunda Division
- Internal lecture and training of NSCDC officers in Irewole Division, Ikire
- Sensitization of policemen during weekly DPO’s lecture at Dugbe police Division (29policemen and 21 policewomen were in attendance)
- Sharing of educational materials on FGM/C on social media platforms
- Participation of workshop participants in activities of the National OrientationAgency on the creation of public awareness on FGM/C in Oyo west Division