From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
The National Association of Seadogs, Pyrates Confraternity has urged the National Human Rights Commission to consider launching a telephone line for reporting violence against women.
In a letter signed by Kennedy Barango, Vice President of Seadogs, Port Harcourt Chapter on Friday, to the commission, the group noted the rate of reported cases of violence against women in the state and Nigeria at large, stressing the need for the phone contact for prompt notice.
The group regretted that Violence against women is one of the most under-reported forms of human rights abuse in Nigeria.
We recognize and appreciate the critical role of the Commission as Nigeria’s national human rights body established to deal with matters relating to the promotion and protection of human rights and investigation of human rights violations. It is for this reason that we have deemed it appropriate to call your attention to an emergent and increasing pattern of abuses against women in particular.
Parts of the letter to the commission states: “Investigations by our Association indicates that majority of the cases take the form of domestic violence by husbands against their spouses, but also of a sexual nature in work places, homes and public spaces. Because of the prevalent traditional consideration of women as properties of their husbands, and the stigma of being associated with sexual abuses, the majority of cases are never reported and their perpetrators are never prosecuted.
“The reality in Nigeria and most of sub Saharan Africa is that cases of violence against women are hardly reported. In many instances, acts of violence against women as serious as rape, are considered ‘family matters’ that should be resolved without the prosecution of the perpetrators. This approach not only provides abusers the opportunity to keep abusing others, but leaves the victims psychologically wrecked for life.
“Reliable reports indicate that human rights violations against women may have increased significantly on account of the Covid19 pandemic and the restrictions it engendered.
“The sad reality is that the current pandemic has thrown up and unraveled a silent and little talked-about pandemic in Nigeria- domestic and sexual gender based violence.
“Despite the prevalence and spread of this type of abuse, no structures have been established to address it in a manner that ensures improved reporting, investigation and prosecution.’
Barango added that “It is for the above reasons, that the Rivers State Chapter of the National Association of Seadogs is requesting that the National Human Rights Commission sets up and popularize a dedicated toll-free telephone line to support victims of gender-based violence to report.
‘We know that the Commission is willing to thoroughly investigate cases that come to it, but has been limited by the low level of reporting and willingness of victims to come forth. Our Association is willing to support the Commission in this regard.
“We strongly believe that this action will result in a significant reduction of cases of abuse, as well as prosecution of those who perpetrate these atrocities.”