Only VAPP Bill Can Stop Genital Mutilation, Rape, Others, NGO Insists

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By Kuni Tyessi

A Civil Society Organisation, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC) has reiterated that only the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) bill can stop the reoccurring incidents of genital mutilation, rape, unhealthy widowhood practices and other decimals that limit the growth and development of women.

The organisation which was supported by the United Nations and the Embassy of Netherlands, noted that the rising cases of violence against women in the country was largely caused by lack of commitment from governors in the tackling of the menace.

Executive Director of WARDC, Dr. Abiola Afolabi who stated this in Abuja at a retreat for members of Borno State House of Assembly on Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) bill in Abuja, regretted that despite the growing violence against women, children and men, many states had not seen reasons to make the VAPP bill a priority.

The VAPP bill which was passed into law in 2015 prohibits all form of gender-based violence including genital mutilation, rape, forceful ejection from home and harmful widowhood practices.

She lamented that, the bill which have been passed into law by only 18 states is not effectively implemented, adding that lack of awareness on the part lawmakers in state assembles was also responsible for the low priority given to the bill.

She said: “Though we noticed positive changes in some states where the law has been passed like Ekiti and Lagos. But in most states, like Ogun, Oyo, Bauchi, it is still just law, the implementation level is still very low.

” Some state assemblies debated this bill and found it worthy by passing it. It is now the duty of the executive to activate the law but from what we are seeing, it is the executive that are slowing down the implementation of the law which also might be as a result of funding.

“At the state level, budget for women and children are always the lowest, and if you passed a law like this, you need to increase their budget to make the law effective. The bulk Therefore is on the table of the executive”.

While lending support to Afolabi’s position, Speaker, Borno State House of Assembly, Hon. Abdulkarim Lawan, assured that the house would critically debate the bill and ensure its quick passage.

He however, tasked stakeholders to prevail on governors to assent to the bill when passed by lawmakers.

He said: “When you pass a private bill such as this, governors would not likely give assent to the bill. This is the complaint we always receive from our colleagues in other states. You need to engage the governors on the need to sign the bill when passed.

“For instance, the current assembly in Borno has passed about 25 bills, 20 are executive bills while five are private bills.

“But, only the 20 executive bills have been assented by the governor even as he promised to assent to the remaining five. We also have problems vetoing bills in order to avoid fracas with the executive.”