Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has urged residents to report cases of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and other forms of gender-based violence to appropriate authorities in the state.
He asked the people to take advantage of the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) in Benin City, the state capital to lodge such complaints in order to tackle the menace of gender-based violence in Edo.
Governor Obaseki made the plea on Friday in commemoration of the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, a United Nations-sponsored annual awareness day.
“As part of the Edo State government’s commitment to ending this practice that violates women’s rights to sexual and reproductive health, physical integrity, non-discrimination and freedom from cruel or degrading treatment, we established the Vivian Ogu Sexual Assault Referral Centre in Benin City to provide a one-stop free clinic for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence as well as the required care and support for girls,” he said.
The governor added, “With our basic education reforms, through our EdoBEST programme, we are also equipping girls in the state with a sound educational foundation.
“Education is a vital tool in addressing Female Genital Mutilation and other forms of gender-based violence, as it exposes the girl-child to information, new concepts, and encourages them to exchange ideas along with access to various sources of information and technology that foster social relations and developments.”
Governor Obaseki urged multilateral organisations and civil rights groups to complement the government’s effort by leading sensitisations to increase awareness aimed at discouraging cultures that allow female genital mutilation.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), marking the annual International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM in the context of COVID-19 is a timely reminder of the health sector’s vital role in ending the violation of girls’ and women’s health and human rights.
The health agency noted that from offering preventive services at the primary care level to ensuring the highest quality care possible for women and girls who have already undergone FGM, healthcare providers remained powerful agents for change and service in their communities.
“We will bring people who have been perpetrating this crimes, knowingly or unknowingly, to book,” the governor said on Thursday when he received a 54-page compendium on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence compiled by the Stakeholders’ Committee.
“We will ensure they never walk freely without the full wrath of the law brought upon them. It is part of our responsibility to ensure that the vulnerable members of our society have a voice and have access to where they can get justice when their rights are violated.”
The governor who is the Incident Commander for gender-based violence in Lagos equally reassured of his government’s commitment to getting justice for victims violated, said his administration would be prioritising budgetary allocations to the Ministry of Justice for the acceleration of offenders’ prosecution.
“I am delighted by the work done by the Stakeholders’ Committee to bring attention to the problems facing voiceless adults and children in our society,” he added. “Through your efforts, vulnerable people are building the courage to speak out on offences of sexual violence and heal their wounds.”
He assured government agencies working in the areas of rehabilitation and integration of victims that his administration will back them to deliver on their mandates.
The First Lady of Lagos State, Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu during the event said: “The stakeholders have been having meetings for months and their discussions have focused on the key development pillars of the current administration as they relate to the rights of vulnerable citizens, especially those women and children.
“The Office of the First Lady has been working with the vision to reduce sexual and gender-based violence to the barest minimum if it is impossible to eradicate the crime. We have activated our response, bringing all stakeholders and communities on board to forge a common front in addressing the issue.”
The rape and murder in Algeria of a 19-year-old woman sparked cries for action on gender-based violence in the North African country and calls to bring back capital punishment.
The body of the young woman, identified as Chaima, was found in early October at a deserted petrol station in Thenia, 80 kilometres (50 miles) east of the capital Algiers.
She had been beaten, raped and burned alive, according to local media.
The suspect, who has reportedly confessed, is being charged with “rape and voluntary homicide with premeditation and ambush, using torture”.
Chaima’s mother said the man was an acquaintance of the family, against whom the young woman had previously pressed rape charges in 2016.
The killing set off a wave of outrage on social media in Algeria, where internet users condemned the “heinous” crime and demanded justice, with many calling for the death penalty, under moratorium in the country since 1993.
A message shared widely online reads: “I am Chaima, I was raped in 2016 and I had the courage to press charges in a conservative society. I am still Chaima, it is 2020 and I have again been raped by the same rapist, who stabbed and burned me. #IAmChaima.”
– Death penalty –
In a video that circulated on social networks and was picked up by local TV stations, Chaima’s mother directly addressed Algeria’s President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and demanded the execution of the perpetrator.
Many Algerians also took to social media in support of reinstating the death penalty.
“Execution should be applied to the killer, to be an example for all those who think of doing the same thing,” one Twitter user wrote.
Another said: “We must open the debate on the death penalty, the monster who killed her has no place in society or in prison.”
But others in the country rejected execution as the best way to deter femicide, the gender-related killing of women and girls.
Femicides Algeria, a group that tracks such homicides, said: “It is not through the death penalty that we will give her (Chaima) justice, it is rather the law that must be changed and applied.”
The activists have counted 38 femicides in Algeria so far this year.
They recorded 60 in 2019, noting on their website that with so many cases going unreported or unconfirmed, the actual number “is much higher”.
– ‘Break the silence’ –
Hassina Oussedik, director for human rights group Amnesty International in Algeria, told AFP that “the death penalty is not a deterrent”.
“It is discriminatory and does not protect the most vulnerable.”
She added it was necessary to “change mentalities and the judicial system for the psychological and legal care of victims, launch national awareness campaigns, open shelters and train the various institutions”.
The Free and Independent Women’s Collective of Bejaia, a city on Algeria’s northeast coast, said Chaima’s killing “adds to the long list of femicides, which continues to grow in the face of complicit silence, the justification of violence and the absence of real measures”.
To “break the silence”, the collective called for a protest on Thursday in Bejaia.
The calls for action and solidarity have spread across the country.
The Algerian Women for Change Toward Equality group also organised a rally on Thursday, in Algiers, to “denounce the heinous crimes” that led to Chaima’s death and those of the 38 women killed this year.
“We want institutions to come on board, institutions that can bring the legal and justice-related aspect that are so critical in ensuring that victims actually realise justice when they are affected by this gruesome act.
“We need institutions onboard from the judiciary right down. We also need to be a little bit liberal on the issue of Gender-Based Violence and other gruesome act that it is not a woman’s issue, it is also an issue for men,” he said.
The Spotlight Initiative, a new, global, multi-year initiative from the European Union and the United Nations, is determined to eliminate all forms of such Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG).
The Initiative aims to bring focused attention to the issue, moving it into the spotlight and placing it at the centre of efforts to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has said that the House would provide funds for the fight against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in the 2021 budget to be presented to the National Assembly in September.
Gbajabiamila said apart from budget funds, the House would also provide all necessary support as well as partner with relevant stakeholders for the fight against GBV to succeed.
The Speaker stated this on Wednesday in response to a request by the country representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Nigeria, Ulla Elisabeth Mueller, who led a delegation of United Nations (UN) and European Union (EU) Spotlight Initiative on a courtesy call to his office in Abuja.
Gbajabiamila said the issue of gender-based violence in the country has become disturbing hence the need for all stakeholders to come together to nip it in the bud.
He assured the delegation that the House would work on the Sexual Harassment Bill forwarded to it by the Senate as soon as members return from their annual recess.
“You talked about the Senate Bill, though we’re going on a long vacation, I can assure you that as soon as we come back, the House will work on the bill,” he said, noting that after due diligence, the Green Chamber will speedily concur with the Senate.
“On the issue of funding, as I said, it’s like a pandemic. There’s no way you can confront a pandemic without funding. The budget is coming in September, and once it comes, we’ll make sure adequate funding is provided for this issue.
“On the issue of domestication of the VAPP 2015 and the Child’s Rights Act, my office has done a lot. We had a conference with the Speakers of the State Assemblies. The Chairman of the Conference of Speakers promised that they would domesticate it in Bauchi, and I’m glad to say that it has been done.
“We’ll continue to engage with others to see that they domesticate the laws. This is something we’re championing, and we’ll continue to do that. For us in the House of Representatives, we’re giving this issue all the seriousness it deserves.”
Gbajabiamila said the issue of gender is prominently featured in the Legislative Agenda of the House, a new version of which would be launched on Saturday.
The Speaker commended members of the delegation for the work they have been doing, saying he hoped there would be a sustained partnership between them and the House to end gender-based violence in Nigeria.
The leader of the delegation, Elisabeth Mueller in her remarks said everybody has the responsibility to say no to gender-based violence.
She said they would advocate for a budget line to be committed to the fight against gender-based violence, adding that the House should also ensure that the funds are released accordingly when appropriated.
As part of their work, she said they were working on a concept to organise engagements with different stakeholders including Speakers of State Assemblies.
While commending the Senate for passing the Sexual Harassment Bill, she called on the House to concur so that it will be assented to by the President.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that the Buhari administration is working Together with State governments across the country, and all other stakeholders, to deal decisively with the problem of rape and gender-based violence in Nigeria.
According to the Vice President, every form of sexual assault “are blemishes on the collective humanity and dignity of Nigerians as a people and a Nation.”
He was quoted to have said this on Friday, in a statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande after he held a virtual meeting with the National Human Rights Commission over the recent cases of sexual and gender-based violence in Nigeria and the way forward
He also promised to encourage state governments who are yet to domesticate the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act of 2015 and the Child Rights Act of 2003 to do so.
Read the full details of the statement below.
Together with State governments across the county, and all other stakeholders, the Buhari administration is working harder to deal decisively with the problem of rape and gender-based violence in Nigeria, because every form of sexual assault “are blemishes on the collective humanity and dignity of Nigerians as a people and a Nation.”
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, made this declaration today at a virtual meeting organized by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on the Scourge of Rape, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Nigeria.
“We will work with all actors to detect and punish the perpetrators of these sickening acts and work even harder to prevent their occurrence”
Specifically, the Vice President further said the fight against rape and gender violence would be driven down to the States through the National Economic Council (NEC), which he chairs.
“We will continue to use the platform of the National Economic Council to encourage States yet to domesticate the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act of 2015 and the Child Rights Act of 2003 to do so.
“Gender-based violence, rape and sexual assaults are a blemish on our collective humanity and dignity as a people and a Nation,” he added.
“While violence against women has always been a challenge in Nigeria, the COVID-19 lockdown has occasioned a steep increase in sexual and gender-based violence across the country.
“I am told that between March 23, 2020 – May 29, 2020, the FCT Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Response Team received an overwhelming 105 incidents; an average of 13 incidents per week, up from the usual 5 to 6 incidents per week, pre-COVID-19.
“Also, a few days ago the Inspector-General of Police disclosed that the police had recorded about 717 rape incidents across the country between January and May 2020.
“And that 799 suspects had so far been arrested, 631 cases conclusively investigated and charged to court while 52 cases are still under investigation.
“What these figures show is an escalation of an already disgraceful trend of violence against women and girls in the country, ” Prof. Osinbajo observed.
He referenced the rapes and murders of Mrs Queen Igbinevbo, a pregnant woman in her home in Edo State on May 20, 2020, and Vera Uwaila Omozuwa, a 22-year old student of University of Benin on May 27, 2020.
According to the VP, there is also the case of Barakat Bello, an 18-year old female student of Federal College of Animal Health and Production in Ibadan on June 1, 2020, among others, saying these assaults “should never have happened and must not be allowed to continue.”
Prof. Osinbajo reassured that President Muhammadu Buhari and State Governors recently undertook to take drastic actions against gender-based violence.
“On June 11, State Governors, under the auspices of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), agreed to declare a state of emergency on rape and gender-based violence against women and children, while renewing their commitment to ensuring that offenders face the full weight of the law.
“Similarly, the President, in his June 12 address to Nigerians, reiterated government’s determination to fight gender-based violence through the instrumentality of the law and awareness creation,’’ he said.
According to him, there is need to look beyond just legislation to fix the problem, but rather, interrogate the deeply dysfunctional cultures, the systemic flaws in our institutions and the perverse social norms which enable sexual and gender-based violence.
Prof. Osinbajo also acknowledged that the Women Affairs Ministry, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, the International Community and several Civil Society Organizations had also been at the forefront of finding solutions and transformative strategies to address the root causes of gender-based violence.
Present at the virtual meeting was the Women Affairs Minister, Dame Paullen Tallen, the Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Tony Ojukwu, representatives of the United Nations and Civil Society Organizations.
Laolu Akande Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President 19th June, 2020
Wife of the Taraba State Governor, Mrs Anna Ishaku, has led scores of women in the state on a protest against the abuse of their rights which they said have impaired their participation in politics and decision-making.
The protest which was taken to the Legislative, Judicial and Executive Arms of Government in the state seeks laws that will protect victims of abuse and hold offenders accountable.
The women in their number dressed in orange took to the streets of Jalingo, the state capital on Thursday and presented their petitions to the leaders of each arm of government, as part of the 16 days activism against gender-based violence.
According to the United Nations’ statistics on women, 28 per cent of women in Nigeria between ages 25 to 29 have experienced some form of physical violence since the age of 15.
This has in no small measure brought about discrimination and the women have demanded an end to the recurring phenomenon of violence against the girl child and other gender-based violence as they want perpetrators to be named and shamed.
Their protests led them to the Taraba State House of Assembly as their first port of call, where they were received by the Speaker and tendered their petition.
They asked the Assembly to sign the bill before it, seeking the domestication of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law in Taraba.
The protesters also urged the Assembly to ensure the speedy passage of the bill, in order to protect women and girls against abuse.
Represented by the Provost college of Agriculture, Dr Elizabeth Wachap, they also demanded stringent punishment to perpetrators, just as they want abuse of women treated as a criminal offence and not given a liberal interpretation.
Responding to their demands, Speaker of the Assembly, Joseph Kunini, explained that the Administration of Criminal and Justice Law was already undergoing a review.
“Violence against women is evil and gross violation of human rights, which stands to be condemned,” Kunini said.
He added, “Taraba State House of Assembly is women-friendly and has resolved to uphold the fundamental rights of women.”
The Speaker also applauded the wife of the governor for leading the campaign for the inclusion of women in the scheme of things and protection of their fundamental human rights.
At the secretariat of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Jalingo, the state’s Chief Judge Filibus Andetur promised to dispense justice speedily and do the needful to protect the rights of women as citizens who deserve equity and transparency.
The protesting women were also received at the State Government House by the Secretary to the State Government, Anthony Jellason.
A co-leader of the protest, Dinatu Dodo, demanded the implementation of the bill if passed into law by the State House of Assembly and promised that the women would remain law-abiding.
Although they noted that Governor Darius Ishaku was not gender-biased in the discharge of his administrative responsibilities, the women called for more female appointment into his cabinet.
In his remarks, Jellason promised to deliver their petition to the governor, adding that the state government frowns at gender-based violence and would wage war against it in all ramifications.
Minister of Women Affairs Pauline Tallen on Monday led a campaign against rape and all other forms of Gender Based Violence against women and girls in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
The campaign which is in partnership with United Nations is aimed at creating awareness on ending violence against women.
The women later proceeded to the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters, Supreme Court of Nigeria to demand proper legal structures to prosecute rape perpetrators and provide access to justice for victims of rape.
There is a need to intensify the engagements of state governments across the country in the advocacy against gender-based violence, in order to deepen and strengthen official efforts to prevent its menace.
This is according to the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, who received Mrs Leymah Gbowee on Tuesday at the State House in Abuja.
“Driving prosecution for sex offenders is best done at the state level, particularly strengthening the states to do so at the National Economic Council,” he was quoted as saying in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande.
Gbowee is the Liberian activist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for non-violent struggle, safety, and women’s rights.
The Vice President emphasised the need for states to exercise political will in order to get the desired results, as well as provide the necessary funding to implement, working together with the private sector.
He noted that the Federal Government had open the Sex Offenders Register, saying “It was something that needed a lot of attention, changing the orientation of men in particular, to understand it’s a campaign that must be championed by men.”
In her remarks, Mrs Gbowee noted the prevalence of rape in and out of conflict zones with impunity across Africa.
She described the successful launch of the sex offenders register in Nigeria as a huge milestone, adding that the country has set the precedence for other African countries to follow.
The meeting held a day after the Liberian gave the keynote address at the launch of the Sex Offenders Register organised by the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).
The European Union in conjunction with the British Council has trained 20 policemen on how to handle sexual and gender-based violence in Adamawa State.
It has also established four Family Support Units in the state and equipped the units with necessary materials.
Speaking during the handover of the items at the state’s Police Command headquarters in Yola, Adamawa State, the Programme Manager of Managing Conflict in Nigeria (MCN), Professor Mohammed Tabiu, noted that the state is the first to benefit from the training in Nigeria.
He said that the training would strengthen the capacity of the police to resolve cases of sexual assault and gender-based violence by ensuring quick dispensation of justice.
Tabiu further stated that MCN has established linkages with the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Women Affairs, the security outfits and the State Specialist Hospital for referral cases.
South African men have led a march to protest violence against women and confront men with the reality that they too must fight for women’s rights.
Hundreds marched through the capital, Pretoria to express their anger at rising cases of attacks on women and children.
“Men are providers; men are protectors of our families. We need to be man-enough. Enough is enough!” said protester, Floyd Cingca.
“It is time that we act. Stop tweeting, stop facebook-ing and go to the streets.
That’s where the problem is. It’s time that you and I come together and take action,” Kholofelo Masha, one of the organisers of the march.
One in five South African women older than 18 experience gender-based violence, a 2016 Statistics South Africa’s Demographic and Health Survey showed.
The report also found that four in 10 divorced or separated women reported physical violence by a partner, as well as one in three women in the poorest households.
These statistics have raised concern among gender rights groups that the government of South Africa is doing little to address what activists have called “a war against women”.
“We are dying… our humanity is taken away without even our consent, our bodies are violated that is what is happening so we are here to just pledge, we are here to display solidarity for the ones that we have lost already and to actually ensure safety in the communities, to beg for security from the law of South Africa because the justice system of South Africa, it keeps on failing us all the time. So we are begging for this issue to actually be concluded as a national state of emergency.
About two weeks ago, South Africa was rocked by the news of the brutal murder of 22-year-old, Karabo Mokoena. Her burnt body was found in a field in north Johannesburg, a day after she went missing. Her 27-year-old boyfriend has been charged with the murder.
Karabo’s death sparked outrage and discussion as women on social media shared their personal stories of physical abuse at the hands of men.
Her uncle, Tshepo Mokoena says Karabo’s family even in grieving, hoped her death would help to end the violence against women and force authorities to act.
“Her death came to me and brought a lot of pain into my heart. But the flipside of it, it has awakened the whole world. It has brought some bit of drop into killing. Even other men who were about to do it – I’m sure once they look at the news; they look at how women are angry and how the whole world is angry. Then I’m sure they would come to their senses and said, ‘you know what, maybe let me not do it,” he said.
“The biggest challenge in our country, is that we talk, talk, talk… and nothing happens. And six months down the line, what happens; there’s another man who kills a woman, there’s another man who assault a woman. So now, what we must do as men, we must stand up and go to government, and start changing certain laws,” he added.
“Whether we need to introduce more harsher laws or change the laws – this I think we must discuss. It’s a crisis in the country, the manner in which women and children are being killed,” South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma said as he visited the family of a three-year old girl who was raped and killed last week.
South Africa has one of the world’s highest rates of violent crime and has long been known as the “rape capital of the world”.
Women’s rights campaigner, Nondumiso Nsibande says the government and society at large are dangerously complacent towards sexual violence and gender based violence that some men are not ashamed to admit to it.
“A part of this could also be the way we’ve been socialized. Often time’s men are socialized to behave in a particular way. Men are strong; men are protectors; men should not be in touch with their emotions and all of that. And often times we find that it could actually lead to the situation where they express their anger and frustration by beating women and it’s not something that’s acceptable,” she said.
Activists are pushing for a clear plan on how violence against women can be addressed by government authorities, civil society and the private sector and urge every South African to take on the responsibility to uphold the safety of women and children.
A group of female social and rights activists have staged a street walk around the city of Akure, Ondo State capital calling for an end to violence against women and the female gender.
Amnesty International has decried the high rate of violence acts against the female gender such as rape, battery, female genital mutilation, trafficking, and the likes in Nigeria.
According to one of its reports, nearly three in 10 Nigerian women have experienced physical violence since age 15.
Furthermore, one in four married women experienced physical, sexual, or emotional abuse by their husbands or partners.
Olamide Falana is a social activist and politician. She believes gender based violence has been used as a tool for political suppression of women.
This she claims is used in preventing women from getting what they should get in life.
“Today we are walking against gender based violence. We are saying no to all forms of violence against women, girls, children and gender violence generally.
“As we all know, gender based violence has been used as a tool for political suppression of women. It has been used as a tool for reducing women into the lowest ebb and to prevent women from getting what they should get in life. So, today we are all coming to say no to all these.”
On her part, the Chairperson of the Ondo State chapter of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Olubunmi Arajuwa enlightened women about the various laws that go against violence against women in the state.
She encouraged women who have been victims of such violence to come out and open up so as to bring the violators to book.
“We have so many laws in Ondo State that go against violence against women. I want to tell our people that there are so many penalties against people that violate women’s rights. We are expecting women and even men that are victims to come out and open up”.
A man who chose to identify with the women, Olubunmi Afuye, added his voice to the call saying it is high time men stopped violence against women and cherish them.
“I understand that some women also are perpetrators of violence against one another but mostly men are the perpetrators of violence against women.
“As a man, I stand to identify with the women to say that it is high time we men stopped all these violence and cherish women as they are our mothers, wives and daughters.
“There is nothing we can give them than the respect and love they deserve.”