From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja
A Human Rights Organization, Boabob for Women’s Right has appealed to government at all levels to ensure the domestication and strict implementation of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPP) and the Child Right Act in all states across the nation.
The group made the call at a high-level consultative meeting on the pathway to domestication and implementation of laws to end violence against women held recently in Abuja.
The event was organized in partnership with the Open Society Foundation Africa (OSF-Africa, as part of efforts to reduce the incidence of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in post-COVID-19 context in five states – Bauchi, Borno Jigawa, Kano and Zamfara.
Zubaida Nagee, chair of the Boabob Board said it was evident from the research that women’s rights were violated virtually every day, and the organization was striving to safeguard those rights.
“It may surprise you to find out that those perpetually of Sexual and Gender Based Violence normally are not strangers. They are normally people around, they are members of the family, they are uncles, drivers, sometimes even brothers. So this is what we are working on to change the situation of Women in the society.” She said.
The organization’s executive director, Bunmi Dipo-Salami, stated that it was everyone’s duty to make sure that governments not only approve the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPP) and the Child Right Act, but also put them into effect.
“How are we able to ensure that the VAPP law is implemented? Because, CSOs and governments, are not advisories. The way Baobab works and sees relationships, we are partners. It is for our communities to be better. That is why we both exist. Government exists for good governance, NGOs and CSOs also exist to ensure gorvernance. So it is not that we want to make our government look bad. That is not the intention. When you make the government look bad, you do not get anything because the government will be reactionary. They will resist” she said.
Hajiya Zainab Lawal Gummi, the commissioner for women and children affairs in Zamfara State, said there were significant barriers to the protection of women’s and children’s rights in the northern region of the nation.
According to her, the traditional rulers and religious leaders need to be carried along in order to educate the people at the grass roots in the language they would understand.
“Well it’s as big challenge and it’s very difficult passing these two bills; the Child Rights Act and the VAPP law. I said it is very difficult because, coming from the Northern part of Nigeria, based on religion and tradition, many of our communities are finding it difficult to accept that we want to protect our children. Sometimes it is the the language. For example, in Zamfara, when we had our own Child Act process, we took about 27 persons out to Kano. Among them were traditional rulers, representatives of various ministries like religious affairs, council of Ulamas. These two set of people are very important. It was very difficult for the Ulamas to accept it. We had to change to the term “Child Right” to Child Protection Law. We also gave them the opportunity to define a child from their own perspective.” She stated.