The African Union (AU) has urged politicians and other stakeholders to make personal commitments and conviction to end child marriages.
The union also urged them to commit to ending harmful practices against women and girls on the continent and beyond.
Ms. Hermaine Kembo, Special Rapporteur of the AU Commission on the Termination of Child Marriage and other Harmful Practices, made the call during a monitoring and evaluation visit to the Federal Ministry of Women's Affairs (FMoWA) in Abuja on Thursday. .
He also met with representatives of the Federal Ministries of Health and Education.
Kembo, who denounced the long-term effects of early child marriages and other harmful practices on girls, emphasized the need for politicians and traditional leaders to exercise their powers to end the practice.
However, he praised the federal government for taming policies such as the Child Rights Act (CRA) and the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPP), aimed at addressing such practices and gender-based violence (GBV).
She said that “we could notice from the launch of the campaign in Nigeria from 2014 until now, the progressive taming of the Child Rights Act and the VAPP Act, where we have seen a lot of progress has been made.
"And that there are only a few states left to tame, so we urge and plead with you that that process be completed as soon as possible for the benefit of the children of Nigeria."
She, however, emphasized the need for the country to move beyond treating the issue of early child marriage as a defense issue against a human rights violation.
He added that it was essential to ensure speedy justice for victims and punishment for offenders.
He explained that “going from raising awareness to taking the issue as a violation of human rights that warrants the prosecution of the offender. We need to move beyond community acceptance of this pledge and normalize the pledge for our children.
“Deprive them of the possibilities to build themselves and the possibility of later contributing to the development of the country.
"This is because if we don't have girls who are well-equipped, well-trained and competent enough to participate in the development of this country, I think we are losing."
According to her, the African Union will continue to monitor and provide guidance to states on how to fulfill their obligations to end child marriage and other harmful practices against girls.
“We came to monitor and see how far the Nigerian government has come on this issue and what we are offering them is our advice on the background to the AU Commission Joint General Comment on child marriage.
"We will also offer general comments on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and the general policy of the AU campaign to end child marriage, as well as the accountability framework that guides member states."
In her comment, Ms. Pauline Tallen, Minister of FMoWA, outlined the ministry's achievements in addressing issues affecting girls despite some heralded setbacks due to the pandemic.
She highlighted the creation of a Girls and Boys Division in the Federal Ministry of Women's Affairs, which is expected to provide a stronger platform to coordinate the implementation of programs related to girls' issues and concerns across all sectors in Nigeria. .
She said that “there were aggressive awareness campaigns to promote girls' enrollment, retention and completion of basic education; along with promotional and dialogue visits with traditional rulers and religious leaders.”
Others, he noted, were the taming of the VAPP Act in 34 states, the CRA in 32 states, the promotion of second chance education programs for GBV victims and survivors, the launch of the National GBV Data Collection Tool, among others.
Therefore, he reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government to work with other countries through the implementation of various policies and programs aimed at improving the development and condition of girls.
The event also featured presentations by representatives of the ministries of health and education on the status of their policies on the development of the girl child, the end of child marriage and other harmful practices.
For his part, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said that despite the implementation of policies and campaigns, FGM is still widespread and practiced in some parts of the country.
Ehanire, who was represented by Taylor, the Director of Reproductive Health, Department of Family Health at the ministry, said that FGM should not be institutionalized or performed in any setting, including hospitals or at home, as obstetric fistula remains one of the most the scars of practice.
Similarly, Ms. Akor Adijefu-Ademu, representative of the Federal Ministry of Education, said there was a need to improve access, enrollment and completion of educational facilities to end FGM and other harmful practices against her.
Adijefu-Ademu added that most policies and interventions to end such practices were funded by donors, calling for more strategies to ensure sustainability to achieve desired results.
Edited / Hadith Mohammed-Aliyu
Source Credit: NAN
The wife of the Gombe Governor, Hajiya Asama’u Yahaya, has urged parents and guardians in the state to report incidence of rape and other Gender-Based Violence (GBV) to authorities without hesitation.
Yahaya in a statement signed by Hajiya Bintu Sunmonu, Senior Special Assistant to the governor on media and publicity in Gombe on Sunday, praised the Gombe State House of Assembly for passing the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) bill.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the house, on Oct. 18, passed the VAPP bill during plenary following the approval and adoption of the report of the house committee on Judiciary.
”I am calling on key stakeholders in the fight against GBV, especially parents and victims, to summon the courage and report perpetrators of rape and other forms of abuse against women and girls, to serve as deterrent.
”In the past, lack of laws to govern and provide relevant constitutional punishment for offenders and those involved in violation of women’s rights left the female folks in fear and dying in silence,” she said.
She said the passage of the bill was timely considering the fact that children, especially the girl- child who are more vulnerable were living in a society surrounded by lots of atrocities and crimes .
The governor’s thanked the state governor for his commitment to assent to the act thereby giving the necessary impetus to curtail the menace of rape and other forms of gender based violence in the state.
NAN reports that with the passage of the VAPP, Gombe state has now joined the list of states in the federation where punitive actions are taken to forestall increasing violence against women.
The VAPP bill prohibits all forms of violence against persons in private and public life, and provides maximum protection and effective remedies for victims and punishment of offenders.
The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) has advised parents to guard their children against involvement in any act of thuggery, especially before, during and after the 2023 general elections.
This is contained in a communique issued at the end of its meeting in Ilorin, signed by its National Secretary, Helen Udofa, which was made available to newsmen on Saturday in Ibadan.
The NAWOJ NEC meeting was Presided over by its National President, Mrs Ladi Bala, with the theme: “The Electoral Process: Safety and Responsibilities of Journalists”.
It also called on registered voters to endeavour to collect their PVCs, so that they could exercise their franchise in the forthcoming general elections.
NAWOJ also urged those states that were yet to domesticate the VAPP Law to do so to checkmate indecent dressing, while states that have domesticated the Law should ensure its full implementation.
“NEC in session expressed worries over deplorable state of the roads across the country, and called on governments at all levels to, as a matter of urgency, rehabilitate roads in their domains so as to put them in good condition for safety of the users,” the communique stated.
It also called on government to ensure the resuscitation of rail transport to reduce the pressure on the roads.
The NEC, however, called on the Federal Government to put in place measures that would help cushion the effects of high cost of living in the country.
The association, while urging members to encourage and support one another, it passionately appealed to them to take care of their mental health due to the peculiar nature of the Journalism profession.
Wife of Ondo State Governor, Mrs Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, on Tuesday, urged education stakeholders to ensure protection of students in the state through the understanding of Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy.
Anyanwu-Akeredolu said this at the end of a two-day meeting on child protection and safeguarding policy, as part of efforts to deepen the implementation of Violence Against Person Prohibition (VAPP) Law. The governor’s wife, who was represented by Special Adviser to the Governor on Gender, Mrs Olamide Falana, said the event was another step towards achieving zero tolerance for all forms of sexual and gender-based violence in the state.
According to her, the programme, which is in conjunction with Webminister Foundation (WFD), is to ensure that there is massive sensitisation through all media and live updates.
“You will all agree with me that Ondo State has never rested in its pursuit of a totally safe society.
“This is evident in the passage of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law 2021(VAPP 2021) and the subsequent establishment of Ondo State Agency Against Gender Based Violence (OSAA-GBV).
“The agency, as an arm of government, is armed with the power and political backing required to work effectively and it has a chairman on its board,” she said.
Anyanwu-Akeredolu also noted that training had been conducted for first-line responders, such as medical officers, security operatives and legal officers, on the use of VAPP law as a tool for prosecution of cases rather than the use of criminal code “which is an old order.
” Also, the Executive Secretary, OSAA-GBV, Mrs Victoria Afolabi, said it was the statutory responsibility of government and stakeholders in education sector to create an environment where students were respected and valued.
Afolabi said that stakeholders must be on high alert to the signs of abuse and neglect to take appropriate measures to ensure that children received effective support, protection and justice.
“Children in both primary and secondary schools in the state should be able to grow up in circumstances consistent with safe and effective nurturing care.
“School staffers must undertake roles that will enable children have optimum life chances and enter adulthood successfully.
“Research suggests that more than 10 per cent of children will suffer some form of abuse due to their day-to-day interactions with their classmates and other children.
“Such children may suffer abuses ranging from physical, sexual, financial, material or discriminatory and many more.
“It is, therefore, vital that schools’ staffers are alert to the signs of neglect and abuse among the children and also understand the procedures for reporting and acting upon their concerns,” she said.
Also speaking, the Country Director of WFD Nigeria, Similarly, Mr Adebowale Olorunmola, said he was happy that the concerned youths were present at the programme, stressing that this was also a way of making the VAPP law inclusive.
Adebowale said taking the campaign to schools would ensure that some of the abuses being experienced in schools were dealt with accordingly.
There is an upsurge of gender-based-violence in Anambra, the Gender Perspective and Social Development Centre (GPSDC), an NGO, lamented in Awka on Tuesday.
It enjoined Gov. Chukwuma Soludo to establish a taskforce to tackle the menace as it was going out of hand.
“Violence and harmful practices against women and girls happen every day in Anambra, and most times they are not reported because there is no state-owned taskforce handling such cases.
“States like Lagos, Delta, Enugu and others have established taskforce to address gender-based violence.
We do not have such in Anambra, Mrs Eucharia Anekwe, GPSDC’s Executive Director, said.
She made the appeal at a consultative meeting with Nwayibuife Women Advocacy Team and law enforcement partners on gender-based violence.
“We are appealing to Gov. Soludo to replicate the taskforce as found in other states in Anambra.
“The taskforce will map out compensation for victims in terms of judicial and medical intervention as well as shelter and rehabilitation.
“The state government should ensure that there is a budgetary allocation to help the taskforce to operate optimally,’’ she said.
The meeting was supported by the Nigerian Women Trust Fund and the Ford Foundation.
Anekwe lamented that gender-based-violence kept spiralling in Anambra in spite of efforts to stem the tide.
She said that the taskforce would also work with law enforcement agencies to ensure quick access to justice in Gender-Based-Violence cases.
She said it would be responsible for organising massive sensitisation against GBV and create awareness of the Violence against Persons Prohibition Law (VAPP) According to her, the VAPP Law will give more confidence to survivors to report cases of abuse.
In his remarks, Dr Ego Uzozie, former Commissioner for Social Welfare, Children and Women’s Affairs in Anambra, suggested advocacy visits to relevant authorities.
A group, Team Goal Movement, says it has embarked on aggressive public awareness campaign on Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) law.
The Leader of the Team, Mr Abdulhameed Oladipupo, made this known on Friday in Ilorin during a courtesy visit to the Special Adviser to Gov. AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on Civic Engagement, Mr Atiku Abdulsalam.
He solicited for the collaboration with civic engagement office to create more awareness on the provisions of VAPP law.
Oladipupo recalled that the state government enacted the VAPP law in the year 2020, adding that the awareness campaign is needed to raise public awareness.
He said that civil engagement was created to sensitise and create awareness on the activities of government and civil matters.
He therefore called on the general public to bring any petition on wrong doings in the society for resolution.
“If you have anything that is borthering you or wrong doing in the society, bring your petition to RM 443 Ahmadu Bello Way governor’s office, Ilorin.
“Gov. AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq has created an office for you to submit your petitions in order to get solution to your problems.
“The office is middleman between the citizens and the government.
” I’m a victim of VAPP, but I am here to submit my petition to the office in order to get justice that I deserve.
“Nobody should be allowed to oppress anybody,” Oladipupo said.
He also urged the public not to take law into their hands, adding that government is ready to provide solution to their problems.
Responding, Abdulsalam commended the state governor for appointing him as first SA on Civic Engagement in the history of Kwara.
He appreciated the team for the support given to his office and promised to collaborate with them 100 per cent on thevawareness campaign on VAPP.
“We are urging the public to submit their petitions now that their is law that protects the little and mighty,” he said.
He thanked the team leader for speaking up and encouraging others to speak up against injustice.
Mrs Asabe Bashir, the Director-General, National Council for Women Development (NCWD) on Saturday extolled the virtues of Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria, Mrs Ene Obi as she turns 60 years.
She spoke at an event held in Abuja, which was organised by Obi’s colleagues and friends as well as gender activists.
In her goodwill message, Bashir described the celebrant as a defender of the rights of the less privileged who should be emulated by all.
While wishing her long life and prosperity, Bashir said “Nigerian women celebrate her because she has touched lives across Nigeria and even outside Nigeria”.
“This is a woman that the whole women of the world should celebrate.
“She is celebrated globally as a pillar to womenfolk and I am so proud of her.
” Speaking on the role of NCWD, the director-general said that the centre was a rallying point for Nigerian women.
“The centre is a rallying point for women and we are at the forefront of advocating efforts at tackling violence against women.
“We tell such women to always speak up, report cases of violence.
If they do not report, we will not know what is happening to them.
“We are there to help Nigerian women that have been violated and we urge them to always speak up and come to the centre,” she said.
Mr Otive Igbuzor, the Chief of Staff to Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege described Obi as a wonderful personality.
“She is a very compassionate person who gives a lot of support to people, especially the weak and the vulnerable and she is so commited to a better society.
“That is why she found a good home in ActionAid, an organisation dedicated to eradicating poverty and injustice.
“Her proficiency in fighting for justice, equity and for the poor is exemplary.
” Igbuzor, who is also a former Country Director of ActionAid and Executive Director African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development decried marginalisation of women in Nigeria.
“Historically, women have been marginalised not only in Nigeria but across the world.
“We will continue to struggle for a better society, for better condition for women and for better condition for the poor,” he said.
One of the friends of the celebrant, Mrs Moji Makanjuola, the Chief Executive of International Society of Media and Public Health, wished her many more years of active service.
She said, “Mrs Ene Obi resonates with the aspiration of women across board.
” “I wish her more strength, good health and more wisdom as she continues to navigate this space that we are yet to cover.
” On rising cases of violence against women, Makanjuola said, “it breaks my heart each time one gets to know that a woman is abused.
“Even these days, boys are being violated.
I think the media has a big role to play in this.
“Often times we focus on the victims, survivors, it is about time we focus on the perpetrators,” she said.
“If you find the perpetrator or you see something happening, say something.
“This is because it goes beyond the physical.
It often affects victims or survivors for life.
“So, we need to start speaking loudly to the perpetrators and thank God we have the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPP).
” She called for the implementation of the VAPP Act so that perpetrators do not get away with any crime against women.
On the forthcoming 2023 general elections, Makanjuola said with the happening so far, it was obvious that women were undermined.
“Let’s support the man who will support us.
Support the party that supports women as an integral part of development.
“Support the presidential candidate that supports women as partners in progress.
“Until we do that deliberately, until we have rules and regulations things will not change because, the 35 per cent affirmative action for elective position is not being honoured.
” In her remarks, the celebrant, Mrs Ene Obi, expressed joy for the encomiums showered on her, saying she was challenged to do more.
She appealed to Nigerians to stand for the country, adding that with the right mindset, the country would take its pride of place.
She said, “this country is one of the greatest countries in the world and I believe it will be great again.
On the gender bills that were rejected by the National Assembly, Obi said that ActionAid was re-strategising.
“We want the politicians to look at the bills again and make it right.
“This is because women represent about 50 per cent of the population and they cannot be pushed aside as if they do not matter.
“It is so disturbing to know that there are some houses of assembly where there is no woman,” she said.
Obi further called for people with disability to be included in the helm in the country.
The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has reiterated commitment to continue to support
Adamawa Government in the fight against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV).
The Resident Representative of the Fund in Nigeria, Ulla Mueller, affirmed the world body’s position at the end of a two-day workshop on stakeholders validation of forensic capacity assessment in Yola on Friday.
Mueller, who was represented by Mr Chris Sabum, the Humanitarian Coordinator and Head of the UNFPA Maiduguri sub-office, said all that is required is commitment and for the Adamawa Government to take ownership of the SGBV fight.
She advised stakeholders to create a taskforce with clear roadmap for successful implementation of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) law in the state.
She added that a taskforce would help to facilitate meetings to deliberate on gray areas when things do not go well.
According to her, the taskforce will also ensure that issues reviewed at the two-day workshop are implemented and not kept in files.
She emphasised that all efforts are geared toward accelerating access to justice for SGBV survivors.
Mr Vungmoh Kwamo, the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) in Adamawa, stressed the need for stakeholders to work together for positive results.
He assured that the police is always ready to ensure that investigations are carefully carried out so as to get justice for survivors, while perpetrators are punished to serve as deterrent to others.
Gladis Zarma, the Director, Adamawa Planning Commission, thanked the UNFPA for organising the workshop and for interventions toward checking SGBV in the state and the country.
She expressed the state government’s readiness to implement and tackle issues raised during the two-day workshop and ensure that measures taken impact the lives of the people.
Wife of the Ekiti Governor, Mrs Bisi Fayemi, has decried the various forms of violence and dimensions against women in Nigeria politics, saying it called for concern.
Fayemi spoke during a live Radio programme on Thursday, organised by the Stop Violence Against Women in Politics (Stop-VAWIP) and Balm in Gilead Foundation for Sustainable Development (BIGIF) monitored in Ado-Ekiti.
BIGIF is an NGO, committed to empowering women, youths and children to ensure equal access to sustainable livelihood through the provision of care and support services, education, referral, resource mobilisation, human rights promotion, social inclusion, youths development and women empowerment.
The governor’s wife promised to enhance women’s active participation in politics and the electoral processes by mitigating effect of violence against women in politics in all its forms in the state.
According to her, some of them are, but not limited to physical, economic, emotional, sexual, and other forms of violence.
She said that the violence negatively impacted women’s health and the general wellbeing, adding it also has negative effects on the country’s political and socioeconomic development.
“The objectives of Stop-VAWIP campaign are to raise awareness about the harmful effects of violence against women in politics and engage relevant stakeholders to mitigate it.
“It is also to encourage women to actively participate in the electoral processes and to track and respond to cases of violence against women in politics during election period,” she said.
Fayemi, at the Town Hall meeting, took the listeners down the memory lane, sharing how the GBV response programmes and law started in Ekiti and grew to the point where it was institutionalised.
She said the Prohibition Law is now established as a comprehensive legal framework that protects women and promotes a culture where women could live freely and safely.
“As of June, 32 states in Nigeria have domesticated the VAPP Law, mainly because of the marching order given by the Governors’ Forum.
“It became a matter of concern because one out of three women is faced with or have suffered from GBV.
This is to promote a culture whereby women can live their lives in dignity.
“Some of the lessons we learnt and applied along the way were the linkages between Education and GBV prevention.
“Consequently, we developed a GBV Policy for educational institutions and also embarked on community engagement working with the traditional and religious institutions.
“We saw the need to establish an effective GBV Management Committee, as MDAs and development partner contributed to the process of mitigating GBV in Ekiti.
“It is evident that one cannot address GBV without paying attention to the economic state of women, because poverty fuels women and children’s vulnerability leading to poor life choices and outcomes,” she further explained.
“The Town Hall meeting also provided the opportunity for participants to make recommendations for strategic actions in implementing the Prohibition Law in Ekiti State.
The Town Hall also hosted Dr Olayemi Oyebanji, the incoming Governor’s wife, who shared her intentions to continue to give women agenda priority attention after the tenure of Gov. Kayode Fayemi’ administration’s in the state.
Oyebanji gave her commitment to continue to advocate for the implementation of the Ekiti Women Policy Agenda, 2022, GBV Prevention Strategic Plan, Political Office (Genderp Composition) Bill, 2022 when signed into law and other programmes and plans, as she is passionate about the issues.
To make Ekiti a model state for implementing a GBV law, both women advocate for funding of different Ministry Department and Agencies (MDAs), training more gender specialists and social workers, to decentralize the access to GBV services in the state.
She assured the people that the incoming administration would include “gender updates” as part of the state Executive Council briefing.
“This is to ensure that GBV and other related issues are addressed at the highest level of the state.
BIGIF, through the programme, got an “instant justice” for a 16-year-old teenage pregnancy survivor, who is kept in her abuser house in Ado-Ekiti, as wife of the governor gave a marching order to the concerned ministry to get the girl supported and bring her abuser to book within 24 hours.
The convener of the Stop Violence Against Women in Politics (Stop-VAWIP), commended the efforts of the Fayemi’s wife toward ensuring the eradication of GBV in the state.
The Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) Justice Network Cluster is mobilising justice service providers to strengthen the implementation of Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law (VAPPL) and the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL).
Mrs Hannatu Ahuwan, acting Executive Director, Legal Awareness for Nigerian Women (LANW), stated this at the opening of a two-day capacity building programme, on Thursday in Kaduna.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the training was for service providers in the justice sector on the provisions of the VAPPL and ACJL.
Ahuwan said that the main goal was to enhance the knowledge of key justice sector actors on the relevant provisions of the VAPPL and the ACJL.
She added that the engagement was also to enhance speedy justice delivery in SGBV cases in Kaduna state and other project implementing states.
According to her, the measure will improve inter-agency coordination among service providers in the justice sector, to ensure speedy justice delivery.
She added that it was also to ensure the implementation of the VAPPL and ACJL project in Bauchi, Benue, Enugu, Kaduna, Osun and Federal Capital Territory.
“It aims to identify and engage relevant government sectors and actors towards ensuring effective justice service delivery to survivors of SGBV in a transparent and accountable manner across six project locations.
’’ Ahuwan said that the project was being implemented under the Strengthening Civic Advocacy and Local Engagement (SCALE) project, a USAID funded programme.
She added that it was being supported by Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) Justice Network Cluster, in partnership with Palladium.
“The implementation is anchored by Lawyers Alert with LANW as its Kaduna base member of the cluster,” she said.
Lawyers Alert is a human organisation promoting the rights of women and other vulnerable groups in Nigeria through literacy, advocacy and provision of free legal services.
Mrs Rebecca Sako-John, Member of the Board of Trustee, LANW, said that the training would enhance service delivery, especially in the areas of access to justice and support for survivors of SGBV.
She said the VAPP and ACJ laws were necessitated by the gaps in existing laws and policies, which included non-inclusivity and the dynamics of Gender Violence Act. Sako-John also said that there were numerous laws on SGBV that needed harmonisation to speed up trials.
She observed that, while Nigeria was good at making laws and signing international charters and treaties, implementation had remained a problem.
NAN reports that the participants included Judges, Magistrates, State Counsel, Registrars, personnel of Correctional Centres and Gender Desk Officers.
Others are officers from Human Right Commission, Civil Society Organisations, International Federation Women Lawyers, Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities and National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons.