The Deputy Senate President, Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege, has decried the level of gender-based violence against women and girls, even as 3,600 rape cases were reported during COVID-19 lockdown across the country.
Speaking yesterday at the 5th Voice of Women Conference with the theme, “Men’s Voices Against Gender-based Violence,” which held virtually, said that from forced and early marriages to the physical, mental or sexual assault on a woman, nearly three in 10 Nigerian women and girls are reported to have experienced sexual abuse, while 43 per cent of girls are married before the age of 18.
Omo-Agege who was represented by the Executive Director of the African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development, Mr. Otive Igbuzor, said the plight of women in Nigeria and across the world has been further affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that cases of violence against women have more than trebled during the COVID-19 lock down this year.
He added: “According to the Nigerian Ministry of Women Affairs, there were at least 3,600 reported rape cases – more than 100 in each of Nigeria’s 36 states during the lock down. This figure excludes all other forms of violence and the cases that were unreported. This is unacceptable.”
However, he charged all men in the country to protect women against gender-based violence, adding that men hold the responsibility to keep Nigerian women safe.
According to him, it is high time they started putting it into action as no man has the right to violate a woman in the country.
He said the House of Assembly frowns at any form of gender-based violence against women and it is doing everything possible to ensure proper penalties are meted to the perpetrators.
“It is clear we have not done enough to curb gender-based violence. We must quickly move to curb the legal and cultural challenges of this violence. Community and traditional leaders should challenge men to stand for women at all parameters.
“It is high time we stood up against gender-based violence protected by demeaning traditional practices,” he added.
Also speaking, the Governor of Kwara State, Abdulraham Abdulrasaaq, who was represented by the Chief Press Secretary, Rafiu Ajakaye, said there is a need to allow women contribution in decision making and policies.
He said, “women deserve to be supported every time and they should not be left out of decision making. They hold a vital part in our society and they should be treated with care and given a sense of importance.”
He, therefore, commended the Women Radio 91.7 for staging such an important forum to deliberate on issues related to women.