The Executive Director of Mothers and Marginalised Advocacy Centre (MAMA Centre) Chioma Kanu commemorated the International Day on Eliminating Violence against Women, while calling for more stringent and holistic policy actions to address recurring violence and abuses against women in both public and private spheres. She made this known at Sensitization of secondary School girls against gender based violence held at Government Science and Technical College Kano State.
Kanu said: “We are seriously perturbed that women and girls account for 70 percent victims of global human trafficking with majority subjected to sexual slavery, abuses and dehumanization.
According to her It is estimated that 246 million girls and boys are harassed and abused on their way to, and at school every year, with girls being particularly vulnerable.
“We are not unaware of the intensity of women subjected to rape, undignified torture, mental and physical abuses on daily basis in all ramifications including armed forces with deliberate silence or pretentious intervention by relevant authority” she added.
“We find it worrisome that 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”.
“This challenges are also not unconnected to women isolated in private homes as domestic workers, who suffer psychological, physical, and sexual abuse. Women and girls who have experienced physical or sexual intimate partner violence report higher rates of depression, having an abortion and acquiring HIV.
“We are concerned that 35% of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or sexual violence by a non-partner; and up to 70% of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime.”
“We have been following with keen interest, the horrific trend in rape prevalence across the country 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.”
“It is pathetic that such traumatic and injury-inflicted moments are allowed to drag or go unpunished in most cases without adequate policy response to sanction and bring perpetrator(s) to justice.”
“While we condemn rape in all forms, we hold firmly to our position that poor policy response in institutionalizing proactive measures and enabling reporting system as well as inadequate judicial in interpretation of processes and laws to adequately sanction offenders continue to pave way for recurring incidence at all levels.”
Kanu cited that as rape constitutes a violence against women with traumatic injuries and even death of the victims, we demand that reported cases should be publicly condemned and not be treated with levity in all policy response and judicial interpretation.
She added that with the increasing incidence of rape in the country, we are disappointed at lack of significant policy response to institutionalise functional rehabilitation and redress system in support of the survivors in seeking solidarity. This exacerbates pro-long deterioration of mental and physical health like depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, high blood pressure and sleep loss.
In spite of various provisions in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigerian constitution and Child Right Act 2003 frowning at early marriages as a fundamental violation of human rights, we are perturbed at the growing prevalence of child marriage in some parts of the country with resultant early child birth, decreased development and social isolation of a girl child.
We are worried over the deliberate delayed in adoption and transmission (into law) of the Child Right Act in many states since its passage in 2003; thus, exposing a child bride to life threatening illnesses like Vesico-vaginal Fistula (VVF), Anaemia, High Blood Pressure, Premature Birth, Malnutrition, Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and Post-partum depression (PPD), and even suicide.
“We must reiterate that Nigeria has the highest prevalence of obstetric fistula in the world, with between 400,000 and 800,000 women living with the problem and about 20,000 new cases each year; and 90% cases are untreated. This implies that about 55 women are afflicted by obstetric fistula every day. This is worsened by poor access to sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning and maternal health services by child bride.”
It is on this background that MAMA Centre rolls sensitisation exercises targeted at school girls, women in informal sector, youth groups and community women across Enugu and Kano state as well as Federal Capital Territory – Abuja.
Kanu revealed that this sensitisation exercise today aims at educating and enlightening girls at Secondary School levels against incessant violation, harassment and abuse, while opening them up to various preventive measures and the existing platform to seek redress, and demand justice. I also encourage you to lodge related complaint on the Girls Hub Platform of MAMA Centre at www.mamacentre.org.ng for prompt action.