BACK STORY OF THE DAY : Ending Violence Against Women And Girls Is A Collective Task
In Nigeria, the percentage of women who have experienced physical violence since age 15 has increased from 28 per cent in both 2008 and 2013 to 31 per cent in 2018.
Officer in charge, United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) Lagos State, Muhammad Okorie, notes that before 25 years, a girl must have been violated either sexually or physically.
Poverty, indecent dressing among adolescent girls, missing parental care, quest for money, fame and political position by women are some community perceived reasons for prevalence of abuse of women and girls. But how can this menace be stopped in Nigeria?
In a chat with the Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, she states that President Muhammadu Buhari and all the 36 state governors have zero tolerance on issues of gender based violence in Nigeria.
Tallen discloses that the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, set the country back many years as it eroded all its gains revealed in the unprecedented number of gender based violence across communities and the states.
She however says her ministry has reached out to the police and judicial system to ensure that no case is swept under the carpet, while encouraging survivors to speak out. She also urged all stakeholders to be involved in advocacy, and ensure the survivors are supported in terms of providing safe homes and economic empowerment.
Assistant director, Community Orientation Mobilisation Officer, Mrs Mope Ayanfalu called on government to provide shelter for survivors where they will be empowered with skills that can help them cater for themselves and their children.
“In addition, government should enforce catch and shame policy, in that the perpetrators will be disgraced in various media platforms. We also need more counsellors to go to schools to educate young girls on sex education and what they need to do if someone tries to abuse them. There is need to address some cultural norms that encourage violence against women and girls in the society,” she added.
Secretary, Community Development Committee, Lagos Mainland LGA, Prudence Abass, also called for more advocacy and public enlightenment in ending violence against women and girls. “We need to partner with religious bodies and traditional leaders to end the menace in Nigeria,” she adds.
The first responsibility of government is to protect its citizens says communication specialist, Alkasim Abdulkadir, adding that women constitute a major component of the Nigerian population. He called on CSOs, NGOs and the media to hold government accountable, ensure that women and girls are protected and that the perpetrators face the consequences of their actions.