Statement By The Founding Director Wacol/Tamar Sarc – Dr Joy Ezeilo Oon At The Occassion Of The Unted Nations Day For Elimination Of Violence Against Women – 25 Novbember, 2015
Violence against women and girls has reached an epidemic proportion in Nigeria and must be urgently addressed to check the impunity with which this heinous crime against humanity is committed. Violence against persons results in cumulative breaches of their rights, including right to life, privacy and family life, right to dignity, liberty, freedom from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment as well as sexual and reproductive rights. Whereas it is true that violence affects women and men, it unarguably affects women and girls disproportionately. A woman or girl for example who is raped would have to worry about unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections on top of violation of her right to bodily integrity and mental torture, trauma and emotional distress that are all aftermaths of incidence of sexual violence.
In Nigeria, common forms of violence in Nigeria includes: Rape, Partner/Wife Battery/Spousal Beatings, Sexual Harassment, Trafficking in women for sexual and domestic labour; Female Genital Mutilation or Female Circumcision, Forced and Child Marriage, Acid Attack, Female body mutilation for ritual purposes, Denial of Inheritance Rights or share from the assets of deceased father or husband, Harmful Widowhood/Mourning Practices, Emotional Abuse, Abandonment of wife or children without means of subsistence, Sexual slavery, and Dedication to shrine etc.
The signing into law on May 25, 2015 of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, 2015 have for the first time introduced a comprehensive legislation on gender based violence although limited in jurisdiction to only the Federal Capital Territory (FCT); leaving out the entire 36 States of the Federation of Nigeria.
At this occasion of United Nations Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women I want to call on government, especially the legislature at state levels to urgently replicate and adopt the VAPP Act 2015 to prevent and combat all forms of sexual and gender based violence in their respective states. Again, governmental responses to victims of sexual and gender based violence leaves much to be desired and exposes victims to stigma, ridicule, discrimination, double victimization and without effective remedies.
Today November 25 marking the UN Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women calls for stocktaking and sober reflection on the plights of victims/survivors of violence-physical, sexual, psychological/emotional, economic and harmful traditional practices. We cannot afford to wait a minute more to end this spate of violence, especially on women and girls. Womenaid Collective (WACOL) and Tamar Sexual Assault Referral Centre (Tamar SARC) will continue to provide essential services in line with international best practices to women and girls in especially difficult situation and victims of sexual and gender based violence. Our services include: free and comprehensive medical services, counseling, legal assistance and representation, shelter and other psycho-social support to ensure full recovery and reintegration of victims of this type of violence. We encourage victims to speak out and break the culture of silence. Nigerian women are today marching in solidarity with women worldwide to say no to sexual violence! To say no to gender based violence! And to stand up to stop the violence. End violence now!
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