By Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News
ABUJA: A Non-governmental Organization, Connected Development (CODE), has called on the government at all levels to declare a state of emergency on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in Nigeria.
This is just as it said, that Gender-based violence has led to the violation of rights of women, girls and sometimes boys, and the cases of violation which are psychological, lives with the victims for a lifetime.
This call was made on Tuesday, by CODE’s Senior Programs Manager, Lucy James Abagi, at a three-day workshop on Ending Gender-based violence in Nigeria powered by CODE with Support from the UNwomen Spotlight Initiative.
The pilot project, according to Abagi, is targeted at six focal states—Lagos, Ebonyi, Adamawa, Sokoto, FCT and Cross River which are strategically selected due to incidence of GBV in the states.
Speaking further, she noted that, “Gender-based violence is a pandemic just like we are fighting Covid-19. If we are serious as a country to fight GBV, we need this to appear on the budget.
“We need some kind of State Action Plan, where the States develop a plan and put this on their budget so that citizens can know that their government is working towards defending their rights and protecting the citizens who happen to be victims of these cases”.
She also disclosed that the project intends to empower women and girls to look at the budget, analyze the budget of these six focal states and select key items that speak to government’s input, efforts, interventions or plans around ending GBV, from which CODE will build the State Action Plan on ending GBV.
In her words, “Nigerian Government cannot say they want to end GBV without having to reflect this on the appropriation bills, both for the states and national levels. We want to achieve a budget analysis that speaks to challenges, gaps in the state’s plans and in reducing GBV.
“The young people— women and girls are going to propose a solution to the government, to tell them that if they want to end GBV, they have to make it to reflect on the budget. We’ll put a cost to it and then go on advocacy visits to key stakeholders in the state, to adopt this action plan as a key step that speaks to their promises to end GBV in the state.
“They have to adopt the plan and we will also monitor to know if the action plan is reflected on the Appropriation Bill of the state, and then from there, we can kick off the conversation that Nigeria is ready to end GBV”, she emphasized.
For his part, CODE’s Community Engagement Officer, Mukhtar Halilu Modibbo, noted that there is a need for more budgetary allocations to end GBV. He added that the training intends to train people on how to really engage with government and then understand what the budget looks like and how, if implemented, it can address the issues of GBV.
He stated that, although the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPP) and the Child Rights Act are applicable in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), there are still issues of GBV in the FCT due to lack of budgetary allocations.
He also stressed on the need for more sensitization, for people to know more about the issues of violations of human rights.
According to him, “Ending Gender-based violence looks towards the country having a free GBV environment where everyone will live in an environment full of dignity, equity and inclusion for both Gender. Every girl will have freedom of movement, sexual reproductive health and education.
“GBV is one of the issues that hinder girls from going to school, as teachers are projected as molesters of children. If this environment is free, more girls will be in school and get education which will translate to the entirety of the nation”, he said.
Also speaking, Rukayya Ibrahim Iyayi, the Project Assistant on eliminating sexual and Gender-Based Violence and empowering women, pointed out that the participants are advocates from women-led organizations, who have influence and, are being trained to train others in their organisations and field in the areas of prevention, sensitization, responsiveness and consent.
She added that the participants are also being trained on analyzing budgets, seeing the gaps within the policies and how those gaps can be bridged.
It is worthy of note, that of the six focal states, only the FCT has a VAPP Act, while Lagos has Protection Against Domestic Violence Act (PADV), Ebonyi has Ebonyi State Protection Against Domestic Violence Law 2005, while Adamawa, Sokoto and Cross Rivers states do not have an Act on Gender-based violence.
CODE further recommended the following: Enactment and Implementation of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act; Enactment and Implementation of the Child Rights Act; Adoption/Development of an Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence; Inclusion of Gender responsive budgeting in appropriation laws.
Others are: Establishment and funding of Sexual Assault Referral Centres across the federation; Implementation of a robust database of perpetrators; and Increased sensitization on mainstreaming gender sensitivity and equality.