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DWAI Seeks Provision Of Sign Language Interpreters, Disability Desk Officers At All NPF FCT Area Command Offices

By Loveth Asogwa,

Deaf Women Aloud Initiative (DWAI) in their quest to advance the rights of Deaf Women, on Thursday 14th April 2022 embarked on an advocacy visit to Nigerian Police Force (NPF) FCT Command.

The advocacy visit is part of advancing the rights of Deaf women and girls to prevent and respond to gender-based violence” in FCT Abuja project supported by Disability Rights Funds (DRF).

The Executive Director, DWAI, Mrs. Helen Beyioku Alase, who is also the President, Deaf Women Association of Nigeria (DWAN) in her opening speech, appreciated the NPF for giving them the opportunity to air their views on the issues concerning gender-based violence among Deaf women and girls in FCT Abuja.

Hellen Beyioku-Alase presenting sign language glossary to CP Babaji Sunday, Commissioner, FCT command

Helen Beyioku Alase raised alarm on how Deaf women live in a silent world, they are easy prey to offenders and their perpetrators walk free, because deaf women lack access to information on how to report cases of gender-based violence (GBV).

Speaking further, she stated that most Deaf women who try to report cases often do not get access due to communication barriers because there are no sign language interpreters in NPF FCT command and out post as this is the only language Deaf women understands.

“Sadly, when Deaf try to report cases of abuse at the stations and out post near them, they face obstacles as there are no trained NPF officers on disability inclusion and no interpreters to bridge the communication gap, and they do not have desk officers in their stations in FCT. Most times they end up not getting the justice they deserve because they cannot communicate with the police officers”.

“Furthermore, this leads to crushingly low self-esteem among Deaf women and girls, many fear that reporting incidents of abuse might lead to them being abandoned, mocked. Fear of having their children taken away from them, losing financial support, care and increased isolation.

Based on the facts above Deaf women want FCT NPF and other security agencies to include Deaf women in the following actions:

  • Create a disability desk in all area command offices and utilize the uses of sign language interpreter to promote inclusion, accessibility and improve ease of public relation and communication of Deaf women
  • Organize capacity building of officers of FCT NPF to enable them communicate effectively with the Deaf and learn basic sign language
  • Inform, communicate and include Deaf women in every activity organized by FCT police relating to gender-based violence and other security awareness campaigns
  • Make disability inclusion a compulsory part of initial and routine for all staff especially in areas of gender-based violence reporting
  • Establish an efficient safe guide measures in ensuring protection of Deaf and other GBV victims
  • Ensure 5% employment opportunities for persons with disabilities especially Deaf women in compliance with section 29 of discrimination against persons with disabilities (prohibition) Act 2018
  • Arrest and arraign offenders even if they are persons with disabilities
  • Prohibit all forms of violence against deaf persons to provide maximum protection and effective remedies for victims and punishment of offenders.
CP Babaji Sunday learning how to clap in sign language

CP Babaji Sunday, Commissioner, FCT command in his response to the advocacy brief commended DWAI for the work they are doing, he also said that the advocacy visit came at a better time since President Buhari has signed the Disability Act so it will help to ensure the protection of the rights of Deaf women and girls in the society and also amplify their voices.  

He said the police is working on child abuse and gender related issues which the department has being created to ensure the rights of women and girls including women and girls with disabilities (WGWD) in the society, now the department can easily work with DWAI to ensure that the rights of WGWDs are not trampled upon. It will also give them a space to complain whenever their right is being violated or they face any form of abuse.

He also said that the issue of recruitment will be considered since deaf women can do some administrative works that he will put in consideration and NPF will seek support from DWAI to ensure that they learn some basic sign language and even get some sign language interpreters to help them communicate better with the Deaf.

On the issue of the desk officer, he said that the police public relation officer (PPRO) will ensure that the disability desk officer is created in their department which will enable deaf women and girls’ access to information and effective communication, while in response from the deputy PPRO said the desk officer has already been created through Inspector Philomena who is also the gender desk officer, and whenever they have any issue they should contact her and they should be rest assured that the matter will be taken care of.

He said that the NPF will not discriminate, that they will make sure that justice is done in the FCT command on issues of abuse, trafficking and any other form of criminal activity whether it’s been done by a person with disability or by a person without disability.

CSP Abel Sule in his response to what DWAI demanded said that Deaf women and girls should always come with sign language interpreters since they do not have any now but hopefully, they will make provision for them, and also sometimes Deaf women and girls prefers talking to the sign language interpreter they are familiar with so it will enable effective communication between them and the police.

TQM reports that NPF FCT commissioner promised that whenever any Deaf woman has issues within the purview of NPF, they should not hesitate to complain or seek their services which they are ready at all time to render.

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