FG Plans Campaign Against Rape, Gender Based Violence

FG Plans Campaign Against Rape, Gender Based Violence

…Rights Commission says 500 Cases Recorded in Bornu …Pass Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Bill…Activists Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, has said his Ministry is partnering with the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs to launch a national campaign against rape and gender-based violence in the country. This is coming as the National

…Rights Commission says 500 Cases Recorded in Bornu

…Pass Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Bill…Activists

Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, has said his Ministry is partnering with the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs to launch a national campaign against rape and gender-based violence in the country. This is coming as the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) says 500 cases of gender based violence have been recorded in Bornu in the last five months, with women activists calling for urgent passage of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Bill.

The Minister stated this in Abuja on Thursday when he received a delegation of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), led by its Executive Secretary, Mr. Tony Ojukwu, on an advocacy visit.

“As a matter of fact, the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture is partnering with the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs to launch a national campaign against rape and gender based violence. This campaign will include advocacy, public sensitisation and social mobilization.

“The campaign is necessary not only to raise the level of awareness about rape and gender based violence, but to ensure that Nigerians own the fight against the abhorrent and repulsive criminal acts,” he said.

Mr Mohammed assured that the government will leave no stone unturned in its efforts to stamp out rape and other forms of violence against women.

“I can assure you that the Federal Government will do everything possible to stem the growing tide of rape and gender-based violence in the country,” he said.

The Minister quoted the Inspector-General of Police as saying that between January and May 2020, a total of 717 rape cases were reported, and expressed delight that 799 suspects were arrested during the same period, while 631 cases were conclusively investigated and charged to court.

In his remarks, Mr. Ojukwu said the Commission is carrying out a week of activism, with the theme “Equality and Dignity for Women”, as part of its advocacy against rape and gender-based violence.

He called on the Police and other first responders to be more proactive in checking the cases of gender-based violence in the country, and described rape as the violation of the right to life and dignity of the victim.

The NHRC Executive Secretary sought assistance from the Minister in the campaign, especially in utilising the public information organs to create more awareness on the issue.

500 Cases GVB

The NHRC in Borno says it has recorded about 500 cases of sexual abuse and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in the past five months.

Mrs Jummai Mshelia, NHRC’s Coordinator in the state, made the disclosure at a rally to drum support for the campaign against rape and other forms of sexual abuse, on Tuesday in Maiduguri.

Mshelia lamented that the Commission recorded at least three cases of rape on a daily basis, while dozens of such cases were under-reported in the state.

Decrying the “alarming” spate of rape in the state, she revealed that the lukewarm attitude of families of the victims to report the cases precipitated the surge of sexual abuse in the society.

Mshelia added that domestication of the Child Rights Act in the state would ensure punishment of the culprits, enhance justice to the victims and protection of the children.

“Some parents are afraid to report such cases because of stigma while some do not have the money to access justice,” she said.

Mshelia urged the state government to provide funding to support the welfare of victims of sexual violence, stressing that: “We need shelter in the state because some of the victims come and do not have a place to stay.”

According to her, the Commission is working in collaboration with the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Maiduguri (NSPH), for management of physically traumatised victims.

The coordinator also said the Commission was also partnering with the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Borno State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, National Agency for Protection of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Federation of International Women Lawyers FIDA and other development organisations to stem violence against women and children in the state.

Also speaking, the NAPTIP Northeast Zonal Commander, Mr Mitika Ali, tasked parents to protect the right of their children by ensuring that perpetrators were prosecuted.

Ali said that state command was currently investigating 10 suspects for alleged sexual violence, adding the suspects would be charged to court.

The Wife of the Borno State Governor, Mrs Falmata Zulum, said that she identified with causes that affect the lives of women in the state.

Represented by Mrs Zuwaira Gambo, the Commissioner of Women Affairs and Social Development, the Bornu State First Lady said the state government would work with other agencies to address the menace.

“We must collectively join hands to say no to child abuse,” she said, adding that Gov. Babagana Zulum had initiated programmes to enhance child protection and development.

“We have programmes designed to cater for the women that were abused as well as the vulnerable children whose parent were killed by the insurgents by giving them opportunities to acquire education.

“About 200 of them are attending schools in Kano at the expense of the government.

“We have also sponsored female child especially the orphans at the University in Sudan to study medicine,” she said.

Zulum disclosed that the state government had also set up a safe space in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), to provide skills acquisition training to victims of sexual abuse.

She said that dozens of the affected persons had been trained on tailoring; beads, pomade and soap processing, among others.

“The state government distributed resettlement packages to the beneficiaries to enable them to engage in productive activities and become self-reliant.

Wives of Northern Governors

In a related development, Dr Amina Bello, wife of Niger State Governor has called for speedy dispensation of rape cases and for the death penalty for convicted rapists.

Bello, who is also the Chairperson, Wives of Northern Governors Forum, made the call during the one-week campaign against rape and gender-based violence organised by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and other Civil Society Organisations (CSO) in Minna.

The News Agency of Nigeria, (NAN) reports that activists carried placards with inscriptions such as; “NHRC says no to rape. Rape is a crime, not a family matter, believe and support rape survivors. Rape is a crime and a rapist is a criminal.”

Bello, who was represented by Mrs Mariam Kolo, director-general, Niger State Child Rights Protection Agency, said that violence affects both female and male genders, but the female tends to suffer most.

“Violence on women is mainly done by an intimate partner, women who are subjected to violence are at risk of depression and anxiety,” she said.

She stressed the need for a strong political will and appealed to government at all levels to invest and support women organisations against the scourge.

Mrs Bello suggested strengthening of laws and policies that would add value to women and bring a gradual end to violence against women.

She called for the need to dismantle the foundation of gender inequality arising from religious, traditional and customary beliefs.

In his address, Mr Nuhu Mohammed, the State Coordinator of the NHRC disclosed that about 70 per cent of women in the country face physical and sexual violence in their lifetime.

“The effects of violence can remain with women and girls for a lifetime and can be passed from one generation to another.

“Studies have shown that children who have been subjected to violence are more likely to become victims or abusers themselves,” he said.

Mohammed advocated for rape survivors to have access to good health facilities to administer emergency medical care such as treatment to prevent HIV, unwanted pregnancies and counselling.

He called on other collaborative agencies to take up the task of fighting for rape victims and called for stiffer punishment for perpetrators of rape and violence against women.

Imo Women Protest

Imo women and girls turned out in their numbers on Wednesday and matched through the streets of the state capital, Owerri, in their black attire to protest against violence, rape, molestation and sexual assaults on women and girls.

The match, which ended at the Government House, Owerri, Imo State, saw the women carry placards with different inscriptions such as Say no to rape!

Women are not punching bags!

Women, girls are not objects of brutality!

Work on your mind and hold yourself back.

Fix your thoughts on growth! Say no to rape!

Rapist should be castrated!

We demand and need justice for all victims of rape!

End the Vicious cycle now!

Stop child rape!

There is no Justice to rape!

Implement laws to protect women!

My dressing is not an invitation to be raped!

Prosecute offenders now!

Receiving the protesters, Wife of Imo State Governor, Mrs Chioma Uzodimma commended the women and girls for being bold to register their anger and rejection of the heinous act perpetrated against them in Imo State in particular and Nigeria in general.

Represented at the occasion by the Imo State Commissioner for Gender and Vulnerable Group, Mrs. Nkechi Ugwu, Mrs. Uzodimma said that “in affirmation, Imo women have said no to rape.”

She informed that the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Bill before the Imo State House of Assembly will soon be passed into law to protect women and girls against all forms of violence and other vices antithetical to women existence in a democratic government.

Reassuring the women and girls that she is with them in the protest march, Mrs Uzodinma promised them of government maximum protection in the prosperity government of Governor Hope Uzodimma.

Presenting their protest to the wife of the Governor, the Coordinator, Imo State Committee on Ending Violence against Women and Girls (ISCEVAWG), Mrs. Marjorie Ezihe requested, on behalf of the women, that the 9th Assembly urgently pass the VAPP Bill into law, as a legal framework to ensure protection, prevention, and redress for all forms of violence against women and girls in Imo State.

They further asked for the establishment of a functional and responsive State Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) at Imo State Teaching Hospital, Owerri, which should be managed by the State Ministries of Health, Gender and Vulnerable Groups, and Justice, and also pleaded for provision of services to all victims of sexual assault.

Civil Society Organisations, the National Council for Women Societies, the Moslem Women Organisation, the faith groups and all others who were in attendance raised their voices against gender-based violence, demanding justice for rape victims. They asked for a stop to violence against girl child, insisting that rape is inhuman and should not be tolerated.

PHOTO: Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed (middle); Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Mrs Grace Isu-Gekpe (left) and the Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission, Mr. Tony Ojukwu when the Commission’s delegation paid an advocacy visit to the Minister on rape and gender based violence in Abuja on Thursday

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