The Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen, on Tuesday, attributed the increasing cases of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) in the country to inadequate and weak enforcement of law.
Tallen stated this during the presentation of report on the impact of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act and related laws in Nigeria presented by an international organisation, Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) in Abuja.
According to her, incidences of Gender Based Violence (GBV) in Nigeria, particularly in rural areas has become a developmental concern because of its grave consequences on the health and security of rural women and girls.
She said GBV had contributed to minimal participation of rural and urban women in all spheres of life, increased poverty and other related diseases.
Tallen said “incidences of GBV had been exacerbated amongst others by inadequate and weak enforcement mechanism of relevant laws; the lack of domestication of relevant laws at all levels, inefficient handling of GBV issues by security personnel and others.”
The minister, while commending WFD and other stakeholders, called on states yet to domesticate and implement the VAPP Act to do so to eliminate GBV and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
She added that “we would continue to appeal to the remaining states to do same to give credence to our demands for gender justice in the country.
“I wish to reiterate that the domestication of the VAPP Act will ensure the elimination of discriminatory practices in Nigeria as we together work toward the achievement of the SDGs.”
Mr Adebowale Olorunmola, the Country Chief of WFM, said the VAPP Act would promote citizen participation in both formal and informal process, encourage women, youths, Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) to be part of decision-making that affects their everyday lives.
“The result will promote effective implementation of the VAPP Act and other laws in Nigeria to make the country safe, including women and girls.”
Olorunmola stressed the need for inclusive and violence-free politics to encourage women to participate in electoral process.
“We need to work with stakeholders, political parties and their chieftains to ensure that electoral process is free of violence to enable citizens, including women, to participate as candidates to be elected and electorate to vote people of their choice,” he said.
He stressed the need for stakeholders to collaborate in the fight against GBV and the inclusion of women in the political process possible.
The Director General, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Imaan Sulaiman-Ibrahim, said the agency had secured over 600 convictions since 2015 when the VAPP Act was signed.
Sulaiman-Ibrahim, who was represented by NAPTIP’s Director of Legal and Prosecution, Mr Hassan Tahir, disclosed that the report of findings would serve as guide on best practices, successes and challenges that could be encountered in the implementation of the VAPP Act.
Presenting the report, the Lead Researcher, Mrs Bunmi Dipo-Salami, said the aim of the study was to assess the adoption, successes and challenges to the implementation of the VAPP Act since 2015, as well as other anti-violence laws against women.
Dipo-Salami said the research was undertaken in the FCT and selected states across the six geopolitical zones; Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Cross River, Edo, Enugu, Kaduna, Lagos, Osun, and Plateau.
“The report provides evidence from quality data to understand the status of implementation, enabling factors and limitations of the VAPP Act in states where it has been adopted.”
She explained that the findings revealed significant improvement in the implementation of the VAPP Act and related laws because of greater awareness due to enlightenment activities carried out by different stakeholders.
The lead researcher, therefore, called for collaboration among critical stakeholders and deliberate steps to ensure that prosecutors and counsel apply the VAPP law in charging cases of VAWG and not just the Penal Code.
“There must be a multi-prong approach to alleviate women’s poverty which was identified as one of the factors that heighten the vulnerability of women and girls to all forms of sexual and gender-based violence,” she said.