– Gender-based violence is one of the major challenges facing Nigeria as a developing nation
– While there have been concerted efforts to address the situation in the past, a new initiative is ongoing to improve on existing solutions
– A trust fund to help victims of gender-based violence has been launched and it is the first of its kind in Nigeria
A multi-million naira trust fund to fight against gender-based violence (GBV) has been launched by a non-governmental organisation, Jose Foundation.
A press statement seen by Legit.ng on Wednesday, January 6, and signed by the president, Jose Foundation, Dr. Martins Abhulimhen, disclosed that the trust fund became necessary to address the rising cases of gender-based violence across the country by providing guards against GBV.
According to him, Jose Foundation is determined to bring child abusers to justice through the instrumentality of the justice system supported by the trust fund.
He noted that under the trust fund, teachers, social workers, and the police will be retrained on how to identify victims of child sexual exploitation.
He added that the trust fund would afford children and women who have been victims of sexual abuse or exploitation to be able to access a complete range of support services from dedicated experts under one roof.
He also assured that the fund will also offer medical, investigative, and emotional support in one place.
Gender-based violence is a common social problem in Nigeria especially in the northern parts of the country.
The magnitude of domestic violence against women in northern Nigeria is relatively high, and some cultural values and practices engender domestic violence against women.
They include male preference, freedom of men to discipline their wives, traditional consideration of women as inheritable properties of men, and the disposition that women are second class citizens in the society.
There has been an increase in the cases of domestic violence, sexual exploitation, forced early marriage, and rape of minors since the spate of the Boko Haram insurgency.
A federal law, the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act, was enacted in 2015 in response to the longstanding problem of gender-based violence in Nigeria, where it is estimated that one in three girls and women will experience sexual abuse by the age of 25.
Yet only 16 of 36 states have thus far adopted legislation needed to implement the VAPP Act at the state level.
In a related development, sexual molesters in Akwa Ibom state may face up to life imprisonment following the signing of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law, VAPPL, 2020 by Governor Udom Emmanuel last year.
The new law will enable judges to hand down life imprisonment to anyone convicted of rape henceforth in the state.
Speaking after the bill was assented to by the governor, the commissioner for agriculture and women affairs, Dr. Glory Edet, describes VAPPL as a sledgehammer for rapists and perpetrators of gender-based violence.
Meanwhile, the Disability Rights Advocacy Center (DRAC) has urged the federal government to review certain Nigerian laws to make them disability-inclusive.
Dr. Irene Patrick-Ogbogu, executive director of DRAC, made the call on Thursday, December 10, 2020, while speaking to Legit.ng on the sidelines of the 4th Annual We Are Women Too Convening held in Abuja.
The theme of the event was The Intersections of Exclusion: Addressing Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) and Disability.
Similarly, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state has declared that women empowerment needs to be tackled with concerted action to bridge the widening inequality gap in Nigeria and Africa.
According to him, both experts and policymakers agree that empowering women, especially the poor rural women, is fundamental to economic development in Nigeria.
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