… GBV : Let’s Maximize Existing VAPP Laws – Ejike Oji
Recent report by The United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, has revealed that over 47 million women are likely to lose access to Contraceptives in 114 low and middle income countries owing to disruptions to health services occasioned by the multiple impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Making this known at a webinar session to mark the 2020 World Population Day, WPD, was Dr. Omolaso Omosehin, Assistant Representative and Lagos State Coordinator, UNFPA.
He called on the Federal Government to give public health the deserved priority as prevention is better than cure.
The virtual lecture organised by the Network of Reproductive Health Journalists in Nigeria, NRHJN, has the topic; ““Putting The Brakes On COVID-19: How To Safeguard Health and Rights of Women and Girls Now.”
According to the two guest lecturers, all available statistics are pointing to the vulnerability of women in this COVID-19 pandemic period.
Speaking at the webinar session, Dr. Omosehin stated that 47 million women in 114 low and middle-income countries (Nigeria inclusive) may not be able to access modern contraceptives, while 7 million unintended pregnancies are expected to occur.
“In Nigeria, 31 million additional cases of gender-based violence can occur in this pandemic because, within the past few months, issues of gender-based violence have been on the increase.”
Also speaking, the chairman, Board of Trustees, NRHJN and one time Country Director of Ipas Nigeria, Dr. Ejike Oji appealed to governors to do everything within their capacity to reduce COVID-19 infection.
He commended the network for taking the initiative while also giving thumbs up for the national assembly for passing the new acts on rape and gender-based violence.
They, however, called for full utilisation and domestication of the existing Violence Against Person’s Prohibition, VAPP Act in all the 36 states which would help in curbing the menace as well as accelerate the achievement of 2020 Sustainable Development Goals.
“Experience has shown that unavailability of contraceptive and other needed health services during the lockdown would lead to unsafe abortion which may lead to lost of lives as a lot of women and girls were unable to access family planning services in hospitals.”
Speaking further, Dr. Oji advised women to embrace the use of modern contraceptive methods while appealing to the Federal Government to put in place necessary mechanisms that would make family planning commodities available to women and girls despite the challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic.“Not having access to these commodities could also lead to increased number of unsafe abortions. The lockdown and fear of being infected with COVID-19 affected accessibility of family planning services.”
NRHJN is a group of Nigerian journalists proactively advocating for sexual reproductive health rights of women and girls; pro-choice campaigners; Family Planning champions; defenders of maternal/child health; anti-GGR proponents and related issues whose membership spreads across the federation.