A facilitator at the IPAS training programme for copy and health editors, Mrs. Doris Ikpeze, has advocated the review of the nation’s health laws to accommodate the peculiar health needs of women and the girl-child.
Stressing that “it’s a big deal for just one woman to die giving birth to a child”, she pointed out at the need for Nigeria to review existing health laws so as to guarantee the life of women at home, during child birth and at the work places.
Drawing attention to international and health instruments that promote women’s health, especially the Vienna Declaration on Health Rights (1993), ICPD Programme on Action (1994), Beijing Platform for Action (1995) and the Maputo Plan of Action, she called for concrete action against actions that can lead to violence or abrupt death of any woman.
Ikpeze called on Nigerians to look beyond religious and cultural practices and take steps to beef up access to improved health and security for women and girl-child.
She stressed the need for all to take up the challenges and use existing laws to bring improved health status for the women folk.
She emphasised that negative cultural practices have largely been responsible for the death of the women, but advised against allowing women to suffer unduly, especially as such practices are barbaric and unhealthy.
She called on media professionals to look review Chapter 4 of the constitution, so as to bring about improved welfare for women in our society.
She maintained that Nigeria should domesticate international laws, review restrictive abortion laws, legislation against harmful health practices, and adopt action plan in policy implementation to support women and girl child issues.
She also called for the setting of counselling centers for the psychological and health needs of rape and violence against women.
“Because of what is happening in our societies now, including sodomy, we need to urgently review the laws to protect the vulnerable people in our societies.
“Our societies have been practicing vaginal circumcision, but no-one talks about what happens to same girl when she goes into labour.
“We don’t lay emphasis on stalking, gang raping, domestic violence, use of drug, alchohol, opium and technology, but these are issues that have to be incorporated into the statute for redress and to serve as deterrent”.
She advocated the provision of psychological, social and legal remedies for victims of sexual violence, to rehabilitate victims, and stressed the novel benefits of VAPP Act.