Nigeria has been given a dismal ranking of 118 out of 134 on the Gender Equality Index according to the 2013 National Demographic and Health Survey(NDHS).
According to the survey, 30 percent of Nigeria’s females aged 15-49 have experienced sexual abuse, with 33% of such incidences in urban areas and 24% in rural areas.
The survey reports were part of contained in a media brief released in Kano on Monday during a two-day Media Dialogue organised by the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative on “End Violence Against Women and Girls in Nigeria”.
Among others, the report noted that various forms of gender-based violence are a problem in the country, noting that “43% of girls are married before 18 years, 17% before they turn 15 while 20,000 new cases of obstetric fistula occurs yearly.”
” Violence against women and girls in Nigeria is against the law and survivors do not usually receive full legal support.”
The Spotlight Initiative which focuses on five states of Lagos, Adamawa, Sokoto, Cross River, Ebonyi and the FCT respectively also identified violent against women and girls as a silent killer that had taken the lives of many.
” We are drive the course for the domestication of legislation, policy framework, building institutions, prevention efforts, particularly addressing root causes of fender based violence and harmful practices. “
Noting the ironic fact that Nigeria was among countries that ratified the treaty for the elimination of discrimination against women in 1985, the report emphasized that “international treaties can only be effective when Parliament has put in a corresponding domesticated law thereby, limiting the international treaties to disuse.”
Accordingly, while observing that the social context on violence against women and girls dwelled on the traditional patriarchal structure that defined gender and worn were seen to be subordinating men, the initiative commended the Federal Government for enacting the 2015 Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP)Act.
” Nigeria women and girls especially the most vulnerable must be supported to enable them feel secured and free from violence and harmful practices by addressing the linkages between sexual and gender based violence and harmful practices.”
In his presentation , former Sokoto state Commissioner of Information and one time Director General, National Broadcasting Commission(NBC), Mr Nasiru Danladi Bako, noted that the integration of women in the affairs of governance as instruments of development as well driving force in promoting positive change would significantly close the negative openings on inequality and gender desparity that could further ignite violence against them.
Accordingly, Bako who is the the tile holder of ‘Kogunan Sokoto” in the Sultanate advocated a sustainable gender curricular on violence against women and girls at the basic educational levels to engender an acceptable practices that place women and girls on the right pedestal of equality with their opposite counterparts.
” This will further discourage government from ignoring deserved treatment for women and girls.
” We must also begin to appreciate and recognise relevant sociological family and lineage backgrounds that the girl child has the dynamism and capacity to participate and contribute as the male in advancing the country”, he stressed.
While focusing on the need to disabuse the negative perception against women and girls that provoked violence against them, the former NBC Boss stressed the need to intensify advocacy activities to foster awareness and create new sense of direction that would place women and girls on the right trajectory of integration.
” Women associations, NGOs and related organs have to be fully involved in including the media in the fight on violence against women and girls in the country”, he stated.
Similarly, the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative Coordinator, Hadiza Dorayi Aminu remarked that strengthening institutions, prevention and social norms, delivery of quality and essential services, data availability and capacity as well supporting movement of women were identifiable factors that could be resolved and domesticated to fight the epidemic of violence against the female gender.
” Institutions must be strengthened to develop a system, plan and encouraged to fund as well deliver the needful. Our behaviour at the national and communities levels and individual to prevent social and gender based violence. Intervention to support women and girls under violent conditions by driving the right persons to doing the right thing in terms of accessing services and provision of shelter .”
Accordingly, Dorayi who expressed concerns over the continued silence of women and girls under violation for one reason or the other, noted that ” it could take some higher level counselling for such victims to voice out the pains and anguish they experience especially going through domestic violence. It is only if they agree to voice out that a likely stop or mechanism to salvage the situation can be achieved.”
Though, the Coordinator disclosed that UNDP had proactively stepped up efforts at the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in expediting on cases and issues related to violence and harassment against women and girls.
” We need to be more innovative in our approach to addressing this critical phenomenon that has over time been reported to be of epidemic proportion and the trend is on the rise in the country “, She urged.