By Jerrywright Ukwu
– Disability Right Advocacy Center organised a rally for sexual and gender-based violence awareness in Abuja
– The event which kicked off at the Unity Fountain, Abuja, took place on Thursday, November 29
– The advocacy center along with its partners, joined the rest of the world to mark the 2018 ’16 Days of Activism against Sexual and Gender-based Violence’
The Disability Right Advocacy Center (DRAC) have expressed worry over the rising rate of Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV) in Nigeria.
The centre made its stance known during a rally it organised for sexual and gender-based violence awareness at the Unity Fountain in Abuja on Thursday, November 29.
The center which partnered with other organisation for the rally, expressed their concern over the increase in such vices and the low rate of prosecutions and convictions of perpetrators of the offences.
Citing the case of the late Ochanya who was abused by her uncle alongside his son, and 6-month-old Khadija who was abused by her father, the Executive Director of the DRAC, Irene Patrick-Ogbogu, revealed that these human right violations continue to grow with impunity in the society despite the call to action against them.
She revealed that the highest cases of SGBV occurs among the innocent and vulnerable ones in the society and this includes children and women with disabilities. She said 30% of women undergo domestic violence, stressing that survivors of sexual and gender-based violence often do not seek help for fear of stigma and a lack of accessible services.
Calling for change, the center demanded the following:
- Law enforcement agents must ensure prompt and sustained prosecution and conviction of perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence.
- We urge the National Assembly to as a matter of urgency, review extant laws on GBV and prescribe stiffer penalties for perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence. In addition, they should demonstrate their commitment to ending SGBV by fast-tracking all processes and pass the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill.
- State and non-state actors must collaboratively and collective synergize their efforts and strategies towards prevention and response to SGBV in implementing the VAPP ACT and provide appropriate and adequate services to survivors of SGBV.
- The media must adopt proactive and responsible reporting of SGBV cases and avoid further victimization of survivors, geared towards protecting the victims and exposing perpetrators. The public must be made aware of the menace of SGBV and educated on how to identify and report such cases.
- Traditional and Religious Leaders must immediately take a stand against SGBV by preaching against it regularly and ensuring that they do not cover-up such cases in the name of protecting the religion
Speaking at the rally, the Director Gender at the Social Development Secretariat FCT, Agnes Hart, called on Nigerians to be an advocate urging them to report cases of SGBV to the secretariat and the police as well.
She said these issues are not only female related as a lot of men and young boys also suffer from these horrendous acts.
“When you hear of any form of violence, please don’t keep it to yourself, be an advocate instead. Please fight for one another, be your brother’s keeper. Let’s go back to the traditional way of life which involves looking out for each other,” she urged.
On her part, the Executive Director for Women Africa, Chinwe Onyeukwu, said no one person can claim ignorance of SGBV in Nigeria as it is a national emergency. She stated that children are no longer safe at home, in school nor on the streets. “This is no longer an NGO issue but one that everyone must be involved in and concerned with. We need to find a way to curb this menace. Despite the laws signed against these acts, the cases of violence against women and children is on the increase.
“We cannot continue to standby and pretend it does not concern us. When victims and survivors reach out, do not shut them up. Do something,” she stated.
Participants at the awareness rally