Civil society organisations (CSOs) have asked the National Assembly to pass the Gender Equality Bill.
They said the passage of the bill and the domestication of Violence against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act and Child Rights Act (CRA) by state governments would strengthen the fight on violence against women and children.
At a stakeholders’ workshop on women and girls’ rights legislation tagged: “Spotlight Initiative To Eliminate Violence Against Women and Girls,” organised by Yiaga Africa, the CSOs called on the National Assembly to begin legislation on the bill as soon as it resumed plenary next week.
The director of programmes of Yiaga Africa, Cynthia Mbamalu, said the COVID-19 pandemic exposed women and children to violence, adding that girls, women, babies and boys were abused because the laws do not provide a strong mechanism for people to pursue justice for survivors.
“What brought about that is our legal framework. The legal framework is in existence but not strong and efficient for people to pursue justice for the survivors.
“Adamawa State joined the states that have passed the VAB bill. We still need more states. The child right act is what we need more states to also domesticate. It’s not just the law, but we want the survivors to access justice on time,” Mbamalu said.
Also, the VAB coordinator in the FCT, Dr Ene Ede, said they would push for high level advocacy to achieve the passage of the gender equality bill.
“All stakeholders have agreed that in all the laws, the VAB act is important and we want all the states to domesticate it.”
We still have 8 red states that have not done anything on VAB after six years of its passage by the National Assembly.
“There are states that the assembly members have passed the bill, but the governors have held their assent. We want more states to pass the VAB act because only 26 states have domesticated the Act. Centres must be set up to enable survivors to pursue justice,” Ene added.
The representative of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Mariam Kadiri who said they will work with all stakeholders in addressing human rights abuses, added that good laws will help victims to get justice.
United Nations (UN) Women representative, Kenechukwu Nbajuogu, said elimination of violence against women and children is key adding that they have been working with the National Assembly to ensure adequate review of the gender-based laws.
The minister of women affairs and social development Mrs Paullen Tallen who was represented by Iliyasu El-Zubair said 22 states have domesticated the VAB Act through her advocacy adding that more need to be done.
The representative of the Nigeria Police Force, ASP Usman Imam said the police are the first point of contact everyone looks to when rights are violated but added that they are not adequately funded to pursue such cases.
“We have responded adequately in recent times with the setup of the gender-based unit that are attending to sexual violence issues. No matter how beautiful a law is, if it is not implemented, it is a big problem. We urge the Nigerian public to call for adequate funding to pursue the cases of abuses,” Imam said.