Why we must end violence against women, girls
... As EU-UN Spotlight Initiative partners to end VAWG
In a bid to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls, all stakeholders and government at all levels, have been called upon to play their roles in order to curb the menace.
This call was made at a two day EU-UN Spotlight Initiative Global Partnership which took place in Ibadan-Oyo State.
This is aimed at putting an end to all harmful practices, in support of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.
Speaking at the event, a child protection expert and legal practitioner, James Ibor, said that it is a moral obligation that government at all levels intervene in curbing violence against women and girls, while urging media practitioners to always remind those in leadership of their roles.
Any government that is not responsive to the needs of women and children should be removed and be replaced with government that will respond to such needs.
He explained further that there are positive legislations that support protection of women and children, but there are still cases being reported and very little or nothing is being done about them.
“We had Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, CEDAW, an international treaty adopted in 1979 by the United Nations General Assembly. Described as an international bill of rights for women, it was instituted on 3 September 1981; that was frustrated in the national assembly because men still feel it is their prerogative to acquire women and barter them whenever they like and devalue them whenever they like. And this must stop.” Ibor explained.
He urged media practitioners to give violence the right slants and news angle so as to put an end to the menace, saying that from statistics worldwide, Nigeria still tops the chat on abuse against women and girls.
Ibor reiterated the need to educate different institutions, such as political, religious institutions, building effective cooperation among the leaders to eradicate the terror.
He mentioned culture and religion as barriers to ending violence, adding that lack of political will and lack of information and education or refusal to be educated will hinder success in ending the evil, stressing that some people have the opportunity to be educated but refused to.
“Let us free ourselves and open ourselves to new ideas that are useful and progressive so that we can make the world a better place,” Ibor said.
Also speaking at the event, a child protection specialist with UNICEF, Sunbo Olabode, explained that the focus of Spotlight Initiative include legislation policy framework, building institutions, prevention efforts, particularly addressing root causes of gender-based violence and harmful practices; ensuring access to inclusive, timely, affordable and quality services as well as data management across five focus states, which include, Lagos, Adamawa, Sokoto, Cross-River and Ebonyi plus the Federal Capital Territory.
She stressed that judges, prosecutors and human right activists are to deal with all forms of cruelty, adding that creation of public awareness is very important.
Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) is a problem in Nigeria as in many parts of Africa and the world.
Violence and other forms of harmful practices against women and girls are reported to be of epidemic proportions and this trend is on the rise in the country.
According to the 2013 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), Nigeria ranks 118 out of the 134 countries on the Gender Equality Index with 30 percent of women aged 15-49 reported to have experienced sexual abuse of which 33% and 24% are in the urban and rural areas respectively.
43% of girls are married before age 18, 17% before they turn 15; and 20,000 new cases of obstetric fistula occur every year (NDHS, 2013).
Violence against women and girls remains a silent killer that has taken the lives of many. The health outcomes go beyond the direct result of physical, psychological or mental health issues.
VAWG in Nigeria is against the law and survivors do not usually receive full legal support, as they may prefer to stay in abusive relationships than leave to face the ridicule of living outside relationships and/or wedlock.
Women and girls subjected to violence are unwilling to lodge formal complaints due to a lack of trust in the police force and stigmatization in the society.
Nigeria ratified the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1985 but International treaties can only go into effect when parliament has put in a corresponding domesticated law thereby limiting the international treaties to disuse.
A commendable effort by government is the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act enacted in 2015 as a Federal Law to address all cases of violence. VAPP Act provides a legislative and legal framework for the prevention of all forms of violence against (vulnerable) persons especially women and girls and makes provision for punishment of offenders/perpetrators.
The social context of violence against women and girls is based on the traditional patriarchal structure that defines gender. It is the belief in Nigeria being a patriarchal society that women are subordinate to men and when married, they surrender to their husbands.
Women do not have a say in decision-making, issues concerning their lives are decided upon and determined by others, usually men and older women; in the family while violence is prevalent in the society.
Therefore, well-being of women and young girls in Nigeria, particularly the most vulnerable must be supported to enable them live a life free from violence and harmful practices by addressing the linkages between sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices.
The EU- UN Spotlight Initiative is a global partnership between the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls and all harmful practices in support of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.
The focus of the Spotlight Initiative include legislation and policy framework, building institutions, prevention efforts, particularly addressing root causes of gender-based violence and harmful practices ; and ensuring access to inclusive, timely, and affordable, quality services as well as data management across fivef focusstates (Lagos, Adamawa, Sokoto, Cross-River and Ebonyi) plus the FCT.