From Suleiman Idris, Lagos
The Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) said it has strengthened the capacity of religious institutions in responding to domestic violence in the state.
DSVRT coordinator, Mrs. Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi, said religious institutions were strategically positioned to prevent and properly respond to domestic violence, given that their teachings convey values and tolerant belief systems to their members.
Speaking at a two- day event in Lagos, she said the seminar was put together against the backdrop of recent statistics, which revealed that 70 per cent of reported incidents of matrimonial abuses at DSVRT had already been reported at victims’ religious organisations.
She said: “Members of religious institutions often have direct support or counselling relationships with their religious leaders. Religious leaders, therefore, are at a vantage position in serving as first responders to incidents of domestic violence in their respective places of worship.”
Over 100 heads of Counselling Department personnel drawn from both Christian and Islamic faiths were selected for the workshop, where facilitators engaged them in various topical issues and lecture.
Some of the sub-topics include ‘An Overview of Gender Based Violence: Need for Professional Pastoral Counselling Skills’; ‘Christian and Islamic Perspective on Gender Violence’; as well ‘A Critical Consideration of the Protection Against Domestic Violence Law 2015 and Their Role in Properly Responding to Domestic Violence’.
Participants were encouraged to promote teachings that would provide helpful resources on domestic abuse through regular sermons, prayers, education and clerical care.
The organisers urged that messages from religious institutions to their followers should include injunctions that indicate God’s love for all humans and the importance of mutual respect and submission between couples.
The need for a proper referral pathway between religious institutions and the government was also constantly emphasised at the workshop, given that domestic violence remains a punishable crime in Lagos.
Head of Counselling Unit, Believers Faith Incorporated, Rev. Fredrick Makonjuola, commended Lagos government for the initiative, urging the State to sustain the programme for continuous and inclusive engagement of all religious institutions in the campaign to end domestic violence.
The event was organised in partnership with the European Union (EU)-funded Rule of Law and Anti Collaboration Programme and Nigeria Policing Programme.