Group calls for elimination of violence against women, urges govts. to implement relevant laws

Women Aid Collective

A group, Women Aid Collective (WACOL)/Tamar SARC, has called for the elimination of violence against women in Nigeria, and urged governments to implement relevant laws to protect women.

The founder, WACOL/Tamar SARC, Prof. Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, made the call in a statement to celebrate the 2022 International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women (VAW) and Marking the Start of Global 16 Days of Activism to VAW in Enugu on Friday.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of this year’s celebration is “UNiTE! Activism to End Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG)”.

Ezeilo noted that globally, violence against women persists because the society permeated human rights violation, especially against women.

She listed Violence against Women to include denial of women’s basic rights to gross violation of their dignity and without regard for their voices both online and offline.

“Women’s rights have been under attack for a long time. These violations are also extended to women’s rights defenders and activists who continue to challenge the status quo despite all odds.

In Nigeria, she said a number of factors, such as harmful traditional/cultural practices, poverty, ignorance, poor implementation of relevant laws/policies and corruption, had continued to exacerbate existing impunity and inequality.

“Inadequate data on the exact number of violations in the country can easily be attributed to low reportage due to fear of stigmatization and reprisal attacks.

“Lack of political and economic will by relevant Governmental agencies to implement laws and policies that affect women continues to undermine women’s progress and gender equality agenda.

She maintained that in spite of these barricades over the years, women had recorded huge victories and attained milestones in the struggle to take charge of their lives and maximise their potentials.

According to her, WACOL handles approximately 20 cases of violence against women and girls which encompass physical, psychological, socio-economic and sexual violence.

This, she said, includes harmful practices and sexual and reproductive health rights.

“The time is now to end all forms of violence against women and girls (VAWG) in Nigeria and ensure the empowerment of all women and girls as contained in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“The theme provides stakeholders – both state and non-state actors – with the opportunity to reflect, take stock and commit to partnership and cooperation that will bring about the desired change.

Moving forward, stakeholders must prioritise the adoption of human rights and survivor-centered approaches in responding to cases of violence against women,” Ezeilo said.

Ezeilo explained further that the process of investigation to court trial should not re-traumatise the victim.

She said for trust to be built in the process and to encourage more victims/survivors to break the silence and speak up, then SGBV trained experts should be engaged to ensure strict adherence to the principle of confidentiality.

“Deliberate steps must be taken to dismantle stereotypes and disrupt patriarchal superstructures and social milieu that reinforce and exacerbates sex stereotypes, discrimination, and VAWG.

Advocacy at all levels, especially at the local/ grassroots level should be prioritised and there should be sensitisation on the need to unite to combat and prevent violence against women and girls.

The founder, however, emphasised the need for all actors to harmonise actions to avoid duplication of efforts to spotlight women’s rights successes and understand unique challenges.

“I urge the government and non-governmental actors, including the international donor community, to invest in actions that will not only amplify the voices of women but also empower them to participate in governance and decision-making positions at all levels.

“Men should stand in solidarity with WACOL as we commemorate our 25th anniversary towards the realization of this vision.

“Progress for women is progress for men and society in general. Solidarity with women’s groups, feminist movements, and organisations is imperative in building the nation of our dream,” she said.

She added that, “It is only in unity that we can achieve a violence-free society. Act now to end the impunity of violence against women and girls.” (NAN)