By Ado Hassan, Sokoto
The Minister for Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen has called on all stakeholders holders to join hands as vanguard of hope with the federal government towards eliminating rape and Gender Based Violence(GBV) in the country.
Similarly, the Minister who vehemently condemned and decried the rising number of cases, sought for more investment in women and girls, stressing that ” it has positive and gross multiplier effects to sustaining the drive against VAWG. They need to be empowered, heard and given the hope to live in peace so they can confidently contribute in nation building without barriers.”
Tallen made the call in Sokoto Wednesday at the inauguration of the Nana Khadija One- Stop Centre as part of ceremonies lined up to flag off the 2020 World International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls(VAWG).
The Minister further sought for the active participation of religious, traditional and opinion leaders, noted that VAWG has constituted the most devastating human rights abuse which over the years, denied victims of hope, justice and better future.
” Therefore , all hands must be on deck in the fight against GBV with zero tolerance agenda.”
According to her” we must all say no to rape and GBV. We must all go out on the battle field with commitment “, She called.
Tallen said ” we must be prompt , protect and connect as mark of hope for our women and girls against the evil acts that destroy of our society.”
This, She stressed , cannot be achieved without without eliminating the barriers of inequality, injustice and poor implementation of the laws.
” Inspite of our existing Public Prohibition Acts and Child Rights Act, yet we still grapple with GBV related issues. We have to care to prevent occurrences of GBV acts through the 28 special assault centres established across the country which have so far assisted over 15,000 survivors of sexual abuse who are mostly under 18.”
The former Plateau state Deputy Governor and one time Minister for Science and Technology also stressed the need to set a responsive machinery to strengthen advocacy and awareness activities to raise the hope and future of women and girls in the country, adding ” we want the commitment of CSOs, NGOs and del can’t agencies which the Ministry has began he needful.”
She also disclosed that the President Buhari led federal government is working assiduously with successive commitment to curbing the rampaging negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic which hitherto, has significantly highten the rate of GBV especially at the peak of the lockdown.
However, Tallen acknowledged the resilience and commitment of Partnerahip for Justice, Spotlight Initiative and the Sokoto state Ministry for Women Affairs and other key development partners for bracing up towards changing the narrative on the challenge of GBV globally.
” I sincerely appreciate Governor Tambuwal’s singular passion for advancing the course of women and girls by having the first ever special GBV response Centre in the Northwest.”
In his address, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, represented by the state Commissioner for Justice, Barrister Suleiman Usman(SAN) said Sokoto state had been at the fore front in the advocacy crusade against GBV.
He disclosed that the state government had re-enacted its Penal Code Laws in 2019 which has since been gazetted .
” It was deliberately fast tracked to strengthen relevant portions that deals with all forms of violence and abuses.
” There is a chapter of the law that deal with violence against persons and GBV which before now, such offences attracts only 2 years but now is life imprisonment “, he explained.
Tambuwal further emphasised the need for proper monitoring and synergy between and among relevant stakeholders with respective development partners as well media in sensitizing the public on the inherent dangers as well procedures of securing justice for survivors of GBV .
While highlighting the the intervention and support of the spotlight initiative towards addressing the trend of GBV , Coordinator of the Initiative , Khadijah Aliyu said a huge investment had been made to benefit over 500 million persons globally.
Aliyu noted that 1 out of every 4 women were violated in one way or the other globally.
” Nigeria is one of the front line beneficiaries as result of its negative indicators which include high rate of early child marriage , VVF survivors , female genital mutilation .”
She noted that the Covid-19 novel pandemic had further exposed the country to high rate of sexual , domestic and physical violence against women and children.
The Coordinator stressed that the initiative was primarily aimed at raising the hope of women, prevention and provide avenue for them to access justice against any form of violence or abuse.
” This will further strengthen the system and structure as well inspire CSOs and GBV NGOs including the rights of women and children “, She pointed out.
In her welcome address, Sokoto state Commissioner for Women and Children Affairs, Hajiya Kulu Andullahi Sifawa said the Nana Khadija One-Stop Centre was an initiative driven by the support of the Spotlight Initiative intervention to cater for survivors of violence and families.
She further acknowledged the tremendous role and support of other developmental partners to the crusade towards ending violence against women and children who are most vulnerable.
Accordingly, in her goodwill message , the UN Women Country Representative, Comfort Lamprey while noting that the Nana Khadija One- Stop Centre was the first GBV response unit in the Northwest of Nigeria, observed that most GBV violence cases were under reported , dropped or not concluded for reasons of stigmatisation, cost of securing justice due to poor justice system .
While acknowledging the responsive mechanisms pit in place by Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal through the Nana Khadija One-Stop Centre, Lamptey said ” the Centre will go a long way in promptly addressing all impediments associated to all forms of GBV and hope the initiative will by institutionalizing the process through effective collaboration .”