DATE: 9TH JUNE 2020
Recent times, Cross River State and other parts of Nigeria have witnessed an upsurge in the cases of sexual and gender based violence. This upsurge in cases of rape, battery and even child marriage is gradually widely gaining acceptance as a normal part of what it is to be a woman or a girl. Women and girls are vulnerable to physical, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse that cuts across lines of income, class and culture.
Female minors are not spared as within the last month in CRS, we have recorded cases of a 4 year old raped by her uncle, a 73 year old retired Captain, an 11 year old raped by a 38 year old neighbour, 12 year old raped repeatedly raped, pregnant and made to undergo unsafe abortion and several other rape incidences not officially reported by the media.
At the National level we have had over 100 cases since January reported in the media. Women and girls are raped on daily bases; at home, in churches, schools, in taxis, work places, markets, farms etc. On May 26, 2020, two members of the Nigerian Police fatally shot 17-year-old in Lagos State. On June 1st, 11 men were arrested for raping a 12-year-old girl in Jigawa and on same day, an 18-year-old, Bakarat Bello was raped and stabbed to death in Ibadan, Oyo State, and most recently the rape and murder of Uwaila Vera a 22-year-old student of Microbiology in University of Benin. These are just few of the cases reported and brought to the attention of the public.
It is worthy to put on record that 55% of women and girls aged 15-49 who have experienced sexual or physical violence in Nigeria do not seek help or support due to stigma, threat, inadequate reporting and referral mechanisms etc.
Women and girls live in a state of constant vigilance and fear of being raped, violated or assaulted in their homes, places of worship, schools, workplace, markets, etc. SGBV is a crisis and as stated in various news reports, this is a shadow pandemic that demands an urgent, effective and comprehensive response.
For us to adequately respond to the current Covid19 pandemic, we also need to respond to this shadow pandemic that has led to the death of many women and girls especially minors in our state and Nationally.
In 2015, during the 7th assembly, the CRS Violence Against Persons Prohibition Bill was introduced and subsequently passed into law as the Violence Against Persons Law. Unfortunately, it did not gain the assent of the then Liyel Imoke led administration before the end of the administration. About 10 states in Nigeria have so far adapted the VAPP and CRS cannot afford to continue to be behind.
CRS Women, girls and other vulnerable persons need a law that prevents SGBV, protects survivors and punishes perpetrators as existing laws only address certain forms of SGBV with limited definitions of rape and redress thus still leaving huge gaps in protections for women and girls. This means that the VAPP bill contains provisions that are needed to provide an environment that ensures the right of women and girls to a life free of violence and a life of dignity.
Nigeria women and girls are under siege and our safety and security will be determined by the decisions the CRS government make in the coming days, weeks or months. As a government, you have the responsibility to create an environment of zero tolerance to violence in all its form in the state.
Women and girls need more than promises, they need an urgent declaration of a State of Emergency in every state in Nigeria, CRS inclusive. Without a strong state response, incidences of sexual and gender-based violence including rape and murder will continue to increase. By declaring the State of Emergency, you will show that you prioritize the rights and welfare of women and girls in your state.
To show your commitment to ensuring that women and girls are free from violence, we urge the government to:
- Re-introduce the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) bill and the reviewed Child Rights Law as Executive Bills in the State
- Invite the Commissioner of Police to provide a detailed report on the actions taken or mechanisms put in place to strengthen their response to sexual and gender-based violence and Force Gender units at the State, and at Local Government levels
- Provide adequate support to the Ministry of Women Affairs to plan and coordinate the delivery of services for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence as well as intervention activities in LGAs and communities still practicing child marriage AKA Money wife
- Mandate the speedy investigation and prosecution of perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence no matter how highly placed. Such persons should also be barred from holding political office either through elections or appointments
- Commit to a budget line for prevention and response to sexual and gender-based violence through the appropriate Ministries, Departments, and Agencies.
- Provide adequate funding and human resources to the existing GBV response center at the MOWA including a shelter in the state, backed with a coordinated, sustainably-funded support system.
- Criminalization and prompt state-led prosecution of SGBV cases within, regardless of requests or interference by the victim’s family or interested parties.
- Implementation of functional Family Support Units and Force Gender Units at the state level that are well equipped to address SGBV cases.
- The imposition of public disciplinary measures against officials of the NPF and state prosecutors that mishandle cases of SGBV.
- Put in place a sexual Offence Register in line with what is applicable at the national level
Neighbourhood Care-well Foundation (NCF)
Health Education and Human Rights Advocacy Initiative (HEHRAI)
Girls’ Power Initiative (GPI)
Gender and Development Action (GADA)
Network to Curb Sexual Abuse of Girls and Women (NETCUSA)
Child Care and Adult Protection Initiative (CAPI)
Women Voice and Leadership Nigerian Project (WVL)
Unified Edgerly Old Girls
Unique Friends for Life
The Living Woman
Today’s Woman with Lizzy Smart
Women Youth and Children Upliftment (WYCUT)
The LightHouse Initiative