In commemoration of the 2021 International Campaign against Gender-Based Violence, with theme as Orange the World: End Violence Against Women Now, the Centre for 21st Century Issues (C21st) and the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) joined Nigeria, the UN and the globe at large to mark the 30th anniversary of the global campaign of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence Against Women and Girls.
C21st officials described violence against women ss a global problem that requires global action, adding that calls for action like the 16 days of Activism are crucial especially to their organisation because it shines a spotlight on the issue of violence against women. Hence, the need to intensify public awareness about what needs to change to prevent Gender Based Violence from happening.
According to reports, Nigeria has over the years recorded high rates of violence against women and girls including rape, intimate partner violence, child pregnancies, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), early and forced child marriages, and sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic like many other emergencies has aggravated the situation even further.
Also, Nigeria has the third highest rates of Sexual and Gender Based Violence in the world, with data showing that at least 30 per cent of women and girls aged between 15 and 49 have experienced one or multiple forms of sexual abuse. According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), three in 10 Nigerian girls have experienced physical violence by the age of 15 and a Thomson Reuters Foundation survey from 2018 ranked Nigeria the ninth most dangerous country for women.
For example, in 2020, there were protests over the rape and murder of Uwa Omozuwa who was killed in a church in Benin and died as a result of the brutal attack; Barakat Bello who was raped and killed in her home; and Grace Oshiagwu who was raped and killed in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
The numerous damning reports show that the country is failing its women and girls in so many ways, hence the need for government to act swiftly to protect its most vulnerable and put an end to gender-based violence, wherein women and girls have been victims of gruesome attacks.
While we appreciate the government’s various legal and policy reforms, invested in the establishment of institutions to prevent, respond and manage Gender Based Violence, the government has to do a lot more to curb GBV in the country, by taking decisive actions through strengthening of agencies that handle gender-based violence cases, especially law enforcement, social and welfare services.
“C12st applauds government agencies, non-state actors, faith-based sector and communities for their strengthening of interventions geared towards the elimination of GBV. We therefore call on every state in Nigeria to domesticate the Violence Against Person’s Act (VAPP); It was signed into law by former president Goodluck Jonathan in 2015 and has so far been adopted in varying forms by 18 of Nigeria’s 36 states.”
As we commence activities and campaign against GBV in the next 16 days, C21st urges state and non-state actors to focus on these emerging drivers of GBV and to also remain committed to intensifying awareness and galvanise global support to end violence against women and girls around the world.
To end violence against women, our legal system must prioritise the prosecution of perpetrators of gender-based violence, while security agencies should be equipped with appropriate training on response and referral of incidences of gender-based violence.