From March 2020 to April 2020, the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team reported an increase in the number of telephone calls received through their hotlines. The estimated number of calls in March totalled 37 and 185 in April.
This increase in domestic violence has continued into 2021, pushing the Lagos State government to begin the amendment of its 14-year old “Protection Against Domestic Violence Law (DVL) 20215′.
Legal practitioners, government officials, police officers, students, and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) were present at an event organized by the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) programme of the British Council and Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) to contribute to the amendment.
Sherifat Solebo, a judge and member of DSVRT, said the reform of the state’s DVL that was enacted in 2007 was long overdue.
Mrs Solebo noted that the 14-year-old DVL which is currently enforced in Lagos preceded the Federal Act – the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act 2015, by seven years.
The judge said this informed the calls for a review of the law as well as agitations that Lagos should adopt the (VAPP) Act 2015.
“There were a series of meetings with the wife of the governor of Lagos State, Dr Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu. Some felt our DVL is adequate while some said it should be brought in line with the Federal Act (VAPP).
“To my mind and understanding, the latter (VAPP) criminalises violence against persons, whereas the DVL protects the rights of persons in domestic violence.
“I, therefore, urge us to take a cursory look at the DVL using the VAPP as a guide among other laws and come up with suggestions that are reflective of our peculiar circumstances and situation,’’ she said.
Presenting an overview of the current DVL, Kikelomo Ayeye, a chief magistrate, highlighted some areas in the law which needed reform and review.
Mrs Ayeye added that there should be an acknowledgement of the mental effects of domestic violence in the new law and not only the physical effects.