By Hassan Zaggi
Stakeholders have unanimously called for an end to the increasing rate of violence against women and girls in Nigeria or gender based-violence in the country.
This is even as the Director-General of the National Agency for the prohibition of trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) Imaan Sulaiman –Ibrahim, has appealed to women in Nigeria to break the circle of silence and report all forms of violence and human degradation to her agency.
Speaking at an event to commemorate the International Day of the Midwife 2021 with the theme: Access to Services For GBV Survivors in Nigeria: A Call to Action, the NAPTIP boss disclosed that her agency was reviewing the violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPP), in order to capture some gray areas.
While calling on women to take advantage of the services provided by her agency, she noted that the agency has been repositioned and their staff are well-trained to serve Nigerians.
”We have a more trained and equipped personnels on violence issues than the police in matters like these. They take it up and report to the police and then follow up,” she noted.
Speaking, the representative of the Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen, revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the level of violence against women in the country.
The minister, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, of the ministry, Mrs. Anthonia Ekpa, said: “The situation has further worsened as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic which has been described as a shadow pandemic.
“The pandemic has seen a surge on reports of gender-based violence cases nationwide, which has led to the diversion of priorities and resources to address these issues. There is continuous advocacy and ongoing amendments to existing policies to accommodate best practices in combating this pandemic.”
The Minister enumerated the most committed violence against women to include sexual harassment, physical violence, harmful traditional practices, emotional and psychological violence, socio-economic violence and violence against non-combatant women in conflict situation.
While calling for sustained advocacy against the practice, the Minister said: “As I keep reiterating in my past discussions on GBV, there is need to intensify community level advocacy on Gender based violence from federal to state, down to the grassroot.
“We need strength to take up challenges as they emerge. The statistics we have just heard on the increased prevalence of GBV are quite scary. The issue of gender-based violence is at the center of human rights, there are two sides to it, which are gender inequality and violence against women.
“Tolerance for gender violence sustains a narrative which makes it acceptable.”
On her part, the Country Representative of the United Nation Population Fund (UNFPA) in Nigeria, Ms Elisabeth Mueller, called for collective effort in tackling gender based violence in Nigeria.
According to her: “Every time we talk about Gender-based violence, we are talking about real people like us who are subjected to several forms of violence.
“Always remember to show love and care to girls and women. We should be able to pass the appropriate message across to people. We should also put a human face to our stories.”
She, however, revealed that about 18 million women in Nigerians have, at one time or the other experience Sexual and Gender Based violence.
” We need to support women and girls by standing up for each others always. We need to give them assurance that they will get justice . When we hold each others hand , then we are on the way to ending sexual and gender Based violence,” she said.