Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
The Federal Government has been enjoined to come up with new policies to check the increasing cases of violence against women and children in the country.
The call was made by a group, Inter-community Development Social Organisation (IDS) at the end of a two-day sensitisation workshop for the supply-side actors in Abuja.
The Executive Secretary, IDS, Mrs. Gire Doom Eunice, while speaking to newsmen at the end of the workshop, noted that the call became necessary due to the increasing cases of violence against women and children (girls) in schools, places of work, homes, in some refugee and internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in the society.
According to her, “This sensitisation workshop is primarily aimed at strengthening the capacity of the supply-side actors and that is, the police, Magistrates, social welfare officers and other service providers including the media in Abuja Municipal Area Council in curbing the increasing cases of violence against women and girls.”
Speaking further, she said, “We want government to enact laws because the ones we have are obsolete. And to quickly address this current trend that we are talking about. If government can enact these laws, it will go a long way in curbing this menace. Security agencies are the ones that these cases are being reported to. So, bringing them in will encourage speeding up of any case because, they have been trained to handle such cases.”
Eunice said: “This workshop will equip them to effectively handle, document, and prosecute perpetrators of gender based violence so as to improve access to justice for the victims of violence against women in Nigeria.
“Statistics indicate that one out of every three (33.3 per cent) women or girls are affected by gender based violence (GBV) globally including Nigeria. 2010 UNICEF report revealed that 70 per cent of women and girls have experienced physical and/or sexual violence and 60 million girls worldwide are victims of teenage marriage before 18 years.”
She added that rape and domestic abuse account for 5 per cent of health challenges for women of reproductive age in developing countries, with Nigeria inclusive.
“Reports also revealed that only few of violence against women cases are prosecuted while most victims and civil society organisations (CSOs) are not aware of their responsibility and do not believe in the Nigerian justice system”, she added.
Eunice explained that government hasn’t been so good to the women folks, adding that, “Though, they are trying but they have not gotten it right yet on gender based issue. Government should increase the number of women in political positions, and political parties should get more women elected into positions.
“The society also doesn’t believe that women and children’s rights count. So, they don’t feel the violation of these groups right is criminal. Because of that, it’s like it is encouraged because the parents, and when their child is involved, they don’t want the public to know for fear of stigmatisation and also they would not want the family name to be mentioned that their daughter was raped.”
Eunice stressed the need for more collaborative efforts from various stakeholders in the society, arguing that the issue of youth and children should not be left alone for the government.
“The development and empowerment of the people most especially women, youths and children is a responsibility of everyone. With this workshop, the supply-side actors will be equipped with the knowledge of what to do. Parents should report cases of this nature to the law enforcement agencies or to the welfare officer or to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
“It is because we are hiding these cases that is why they are being carried out. If the parents report these issues without fear of stigmatisation, this will go a long way in curbing the incidence of violence against women and girls”, Eunice affirmed.