By Lawrence Enyoghasu
A conglomerate of civil society organizations across the world led by Afrihealth Optonet Association has proposed ways United Nation and other African leaders can end gender-based violence (GBV) by 2030, adding that negligence can lead to chaos.
According to the press release signed by Dr. Uzodinma Adirieje, Programmes Director, Civil Society for Ending Gender-Based Violence (CS4EGBV) Project, and CEO of Afrihealth Optonet Association; African leaders and UN should declare as a “war crime”, any gender-based violence and violence against women and girls (VAWG) orchestrated during wars and inter-communal conflicts, thus making it punishable under current international laws on war crimes.
He added that they should also institute free and compulsory health services for all victims of GBV/VAWG in all health facilities, while using health insurance to pay for those who shall be treated by private health facilities, especially for refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), migrants, homeless people, persons with disability, older persons and adolescents.
“Increasingly promote measures to ensure the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal no. 5 (SDG5) – Achieve Gender Equality and Empower Women and Girls, as being cross-cutting to all the other SDGs, in all sectors, at all levels, for every society. Support the involvement of men and boys as critical agents/champions for the elimination of GBV/VAWG in their respective societies/environments and beyond.
“Support the signing of the ‘Every Woman Treaty’ as a necessary ‘next step’ in ending VAWG globally; include GBV/VAWG in school curricula at the early stages of children’s education in schools, as part of the global efforts to promote and observe human rights and dignity for all persons; support and prevail on the courts to provide lie detector test machines to verify reported GBV/VAWG cases, so as to avoid punishing an innocent person, or and letting perpetrators go free for “want of proof or evidence”; and always ensure that true justice based on truth is dispensed to all with neither fear nor favour, affection nor ill-will. To promote increased access to GBV/VAWG information by the youth, since ‘information is power’ and informed young women and men are bound to make better decisions that assist them to effectively engage in life processes, escape GBV/VAWG and determine their destiny. Support continuous multi-sectorial approaches to urgently stop the GBV/VAWG pandemic, including provision of safe spaces where victims can report abuses without alerting perpetrators in rural, remote, hard-to-reach, poor urban and resource-constrained populations across the whole world.
“Consider programme flexibility to include GBV interventions with current funds and going forward, provide additional resources to respond to the issues of GBV/VAWG monster and commit to ‘building back better’ during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, which gender dynamics cannot be overlooked, by providing, supporting and committing to interventions that assist women to deal with the impacts of the pandemic, which has already increased the burden of care and risk of GBV/VAWG for women. To address the provision of menstrual pads and other sanitary wears for women and girls as basic needs to be provided free at all times, as many women, girls and adolescents/youths are compelled to sell their bodies, engage into early sexual activities, remain in abusive relationships, and or refuse to report these perpetrators of GBV/VAWG in order to continue to receive moneys to provide these menstrual pads and other sanitary wears. Dr. Adirieje commented that countries and organizations are instituting programmes meant to offer free contraceptives to girls as young as 12 years, who at the same time cannot afford menstrual pads and other sanitary wear. He requested donors and development partners to assist global networks and support groups for victims of GBV/VAWG through the mass media, enhanced communication and collaboration between all community sectors to end GBV/VAWG, adding that the SDGs cannot be achieved if GBV/VAWG is not totally eliminated in all societies.