Uploaded by on November 22, 2019

Ahead of the 2019 International Day on the Elimination of Violence Against Women which usually comes up on the 25th of November, annually, the United Nations has reminded Journalists of the need to creat adequate awareness on the eradication of all forms of violence against women and the girls.

This was the focus of a two-day media engagement tagged “Spotlight Initiative to End Violence Against Women and Girls” put together by the United Nations(UN) in collaboration with the European Union( EU) at Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

This follows alarming and epidemic proportion of the wave of violence against women and girls in parts of the country.

According to the 2013 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), Violence Against Women and Girls( VAWG) has remained one of the most devastating human rights violation globally with Nigeria ranking 118 out of the 134 countries on Gender Equality Index with 30% of women aged 15-49 reportedly experienced sexual abuse with 33% and 24% respectively in the urban and rural areas.

Addressing journalists, a Child Protection Specialist at the UNICEF, Dr. Sumbo Odebode said that the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative is a global partnership between the United Nations(UN) and European Union (EU) to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls
and bring to the front burner all efforts geared towards achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment, in line with the 2030 Sustainable Development.

Dr. Odebode said the project is aimed at eliminating Sexual and Gender-Based violence (SGBV), Harmful Practices (HPs), as well as address all related aspects of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHRs) in 8 Priority Countries including Nigeria, Niger, Mali, Liberia, Malawi, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

EU-UN Spotlight Initiative.

She enumerated 6 pillars of the Spotlight Initiative to include legislative and policy framework, strengthening existing institutions, prevention and social norms, delivery of quality essential services, adding that the purpose of the media engagement was to get them to better understand the issues at stake.

“Partnering with the media is to enable them to have a good stand point from which you will be writing because if you don’t understand what you are writing about, we will not get the desired result which is to end violence against women and girls”.

The Child Protection Specialist said that the project would be operated through various United Nations agencies consisting of the UNDP, UNFPA, UN Women, UNESCO and UNICEF.

She noted that the the objective of the Spotlight Initiative included legislation and policy framework, building institutions, prevention efforts, particularly addressing root causes of gender based violence and harmful practices; and ensuring access to inclusive, timely,and affordable, equality services as well as data management across five focused states including Lagos, Adamawa, Sokoto, Cross River, Ebonyi and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

THE UNICEF Representative in Nigeria who described violence against women and girls as a silent killer, said that scourge had caused many women their lives through physical, mental or psychological issues, decried that it was yet to be given desired legal support.

Violence against women and girls in Nigeria is against the law and survivors do not usually receive full legal support, as they may prefer to stay in abusive relationships than leave to face the ridicule of living outside relationships and/or wedlock. Women and girls subjected to violence are unwilling to lodge formal complaints due to a lack of trust in the police force and stigmatization in the society.

With the disturbing statistics by NDHS (2013) that 43% of girls are married before age 18, 17% before they turned 15; and 20,000 new cases of obstetric fistula occur every year.

Speaking from a legal perspective, a Human Rights Activist and Lawyer, Mr. James Ibor who spoke on implementing the laws, confronting the political and social challenges around Violence Against Women and Girls, called on the media to create more awareness about Harmful Traditional Practices, Sexual, Physical, Emotional and Economic violence so that women who feel exactly hurt, could speak up about it and seek redress within the ambit of the law.

“Not many persons today understand that Gender Based Violence constitutes a breach of fundamental human rights to life, liberty, security, dignity and equality between women and men”

“We must also understand that Violence against women is deeply entrenched in our society and that’s why some persons don’t frown at it”

Mr. Ibor enumerated some of the legal instruments on Violence Against Women and Girls which exists to seek redress personally, or on behalf of a survivor (victim-fatality)

The Rights Activist noted that Section 21 of the Child Rights Act Provides that no persons under the age of 18 years is capable of contracting a valid marriage.

“Section 22 & 23 prohibits child marriage, betrothal and prescribes imprisonment for a term of 5years for those found guilty in Section 21, 22 & 23 respectively”. He added

He recalled that Nigeria ratified the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1985, but noted that International treaties could only go into effect when the parliament has put in a corresponding domesticated law, otherwise, it limits the international treaties to disuse.
Another commendable effort by government he said was the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act enacted in 2015 as a Federal Law to address all cases of violence.

The VAPP Act provides a legislative and legal framework for the prevention of all forms of violence against (vulnerable) persons especially women and girls and makes provision for punishment of offenders/perpetrators. 

According to Mr. Ibor, “a better understanding of the issues by the media would ensure that the stories written could actually cause the change desired in ending the violence against women and girls.”

Panel of discussants at the Media Engagement for Spotlight Initiative.

A UN statistics shows that only 52% of women married or in a union freely make their own decisions about sexual relations, contraceptive use and health care worldwide, 71% of all human trafficking victims worldwide are women and girls, and 3 out of 4 of these women and girls are sexually exploited.

On her part, the Executive Director, Always Sisters Foundation for Care and Support, Mrs. Chika Obiechina said carrying out extensive media campaign in partnership with CSOs and the NGO’s with effective community mobilization on the issues of violence against women and girls would go a long way to ending the menace of VAWG.


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