The Executive Director of Mothers And Marginalised Advocacy Centre (MAMA Centre), Chioma Kanu has bemoaned the existing socio-cultural beliefs, deliberately introduced discriminatory practices, laws and policies against women and girl child, as contributory factor for incessant Gender-Based Violence at all levels.
She made this known at a One-day Sensitisation of Women in Informal Sector on Gender-Based Violence, organised by MAMA Centre in Abuja.
According to her, the Sensitisation exercise was held in commemoration of International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women with the primary aim to t educating and enlightening the women on the incessant violation, harassment and abuse at all levels, while opening them up to various preventive measures and existing platform to seek redress and demand justice.
She said: “Gender-Based Violence is enabled by the existing socio-cultural beliefs, deliberately introduced discriminatory and harmful practices, laws and policies against women and girl child at all levels.
“Nearly one third of all of Nigerian women have experienced silent physical violence, which encompasses infliction of live-threatening injuries, marital rape and murder, at the hands of their intimate partners; with normalised believe that a husband is justified in beating his wife for a number of reasons.
“While Gender-Based Violence in all ramifications is fast becoming a trend in recent times in Nigeria, Violence Against Person Prohibition (VAPP) Act is an enabling law with comprehensive provisions that if fully implemented would prevent and address incessant forms of violence including physical, psychological, sexual, harmful traditional practices; and socio-economic, among women and girls.”
The Executive Director recalled that in recent times, Nigeria is bedevilled by horrific trend in rape prevalence across with disproportionate response by various authorities including ill-thought commentaries by individuals or group of individuals who publicly hold unfair and despicable views against the victims.
“Under-reported cases of Gender-Based Violence in Nigeria pave way for unchecked degrading treatment, harassment, violation of women and girls with resultant social stigmatisation, isolation, life-threatening infections, death and in most cases, permanent disability.
“Survivors of abuse and violation if not properly rehabilitated and reintegrated suffer long-term psychological, social, emotional and physiccal impacts that impede their personal development and interaction with the society.
“Gender-Based Violence manifests in early child marriage, which constitutes a serious challenge to child bride’s emotional, social and cognitive development with amplified propensity for self-limitation, life-threatening marital violation and abuse,” she added.
Kanu called for institutionalised and functional proactive measures and enabling reporting system as well as well-informed judicial interpretation of processes and laws to effectively sanction offenders and avert recurring incidence at all levels.
She demanded full implementation of Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act with sincere political will to punish offenders with independent judiciary to constructively sanction the perpetrators without fear, intimidation or favour; and rapid adoption and full implementation of Anti-Sexual Harassment Bill by all State Houses of Assembly in Nigeria, as a demonstration of sincere commitment by the State Governments to secure health, emotional and physical well-being of girls in the country.
The MAMA Centre’s boss advocated prompt review and elimination of discriminatory laws and policies against women and girl child with demonstrated policy and community support at all levels; institutionalise effective rehabilitation, recovery and reintegration programmes through medical, psychological and legal services for the survivors at all levels.
She further called for strengthened organs for the administration of criminal Justice that respect human rights, women and girls rights as well as institutionalizing law enforcement and criminal justice structure that does not rely on fear and raw power, but on honour, professionalism, legality and fairness to all.
While discussion unveiling existing reporting platforms on Gender-Based Violence, the Executive Director encouraged women to leverage various reporting channel of MAMA Centre like its Girl Hub Platform and regionally-positioned Legal Team in seeking redress and demanding accountability.
Also, speaking at the meeting, Women Leader, Mrs. Lami Zhiwa, explained that survivors of abuse and violation if not properly rehabilitated and reintegrated suffer long-term psychological, social, emotional and physical impacts that impede their personal development and interaction with the society.
She called for adequate parental and policy support for girl child education, training and personal development to mitigate recurring incidence of violation and abuse at all levels.
The Women Leader advised that adequate cooperation and collective support at households and community levels in proactive reporting of a suspected case will complement effort of relevant authorities in addressing Gender-Based Violence in Nigeria; and responsive and supportive community in the provision of social support to the affected household and survivor to eliminate reported social stigmatisation.
Zhiwa further demanded prompt review and elimination of discriminatory laws and policies against women and girl child with demonstrated policy and community support at all levels.
The Sensitisation exercise aimed at educating and enlightening the women on the incessant violation, harassment and abuse at all levels, while opening them up to various preventive measures and existing platform to seek redress and demand justice.