By Tobi Soniyi
The Nigerian Feminist Forum (NFF), has urged states that are yet to domesticate the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act to do so.
Rising from a two-day workshop on the VAPP Act in Abuja yesterday, NFF’s Focal Person, Chinonso Okechukwu, said the domestication of the law had become imperative in view of the endemic cases of gender and sexual-based violence that took place as COVID-19 ravaged the country.
In a communiqué issued yesterday, the NFF in conjunction with other feminist groups: CARA Development Foundation, Women and Girlchild capabilities, Gombe VAPP Alliance, Dofoundation International and State of Emergency GBV, among others, urged state governors across the country to domesticate and create awareness of the law, as a way of preventing Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in the society.
The group recalled that the federal government had passed the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act on May 25, 2015 to eliminate violence in private and public life as well as prohibit all forms of violence against persons; provide maximum protection, effective remedies for victims, punishment for offenders and for related matters.
However, the NFF expressed concerns that despite the significance of this Act in the development of the country as a whole, 21 states were yet to domesticate the Act as at October 6, 2020.
It listed the states to include: Imo, Adamawa, Bayelsa, Nasarawa, Cross River, Kogi, Borno, Yobe, Kebbi, Taraba, Gombe, Niger, Jigawa, Ondo, Kwara, Sokoto, Zamfara, Kano, katsina, Delta, Rivers.
The communiqué read, “We (the NFF) demand that states that are yet to domesticate the VAPP Act should do so immediately, in addition, commit resources in its annual budget for the effective implementation and enforcement;
“To develop state road maps for the implementation of the VAPP Act;
“Adopt a multi-sectoral approach to implement, monitor and evaluate implementation of the law by aligning the linkages between gender equality and each sector of government and ensuring the necessary budgetary allocations.
“Take all necessary actions to ensure that the provisions of the VAPP Act are mainstreamed in all national and state policy decisions, legislation, development plans, programs and activities in all spheres of life and meet the reporting requirements as agreed upon;
“Hold consultations widely with civil society organisations working on women’s rights issues, women’s groups, citizens’ groups and other strategic stakeholders when developing plans for implementation and review;
“Repeal all existing laws that are discriminatory against women and ensure the protection of the rights of all women and their human dignity in accordance with the VAPP Act and other international human rights instruments like the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and Maputo Protocol;
“The Federal Ministry of Women Affairs to lend support through state ministries of women affairs who have difficulties in planning, budgeting, implementation and reporting of their human rights and women rights responsibilities.”
Earlier, Coordinator, Imo State Committee on Ending Against Women and Girls, Mrs. Majorie Ezihe, had explained that the VAPP Act was not only about women but both males and females.
She said that the workshop was aimed at deepening the dialogue on the need to raise the level of advocacy and awareness of the Act.
She decried the lack of awareness of the Act particularly at the local communities which she said had led to a spike in gender based violence especially incest.
“Imagine a father raping his four-year-old daughter or an uncle defiling his three-month-old niece; One begins to wonder what could lead a man to committing such a crime.
“It is so sad that in the communities, the community leaders will advocate Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) which is very wrong.
“Sometimes, poverty too is a factor and these are the type of things VAPP intends to address as it has a penalty for anyone who tries to advocate ADR for such a heinous crime as rape.”