By NWOGHA NDUBUISI ANDY, Abakaliki
Awake of the rising cases of sexual gender based violence in the country, founding director Women Aid Collective (WACOL), Professor Joy Ngozi Ezilo has called for diligent prosecution of perpetuators of violence against women.
Professor Ezilo made the plea during the two days capacity building training for Civil Society Organizations on legislative advocacy for women’s rights as organized by Women Aid Collective,in collaboration with United Nations Women, under the, SportLight Initiative project in Abakaliki.
According to the director,the training was focus on preparing CSOs to be able to engage with the lawmakers on the need to protect the rights of women and girl child especially on issues around violence against women and girl child.
“This training which is on two phases,one on legislative advocacy and another on, treaty reporting and monitoring.
” We know that sexual and gender based violence are violence that disproportionately affecting women and girls,and there are so many in our environment among: early and force marriage, Female Genital Cutting, widowhood practices, denial of inheritance rights, trafficking in human being,wife battering,child abuse and neglect with whole lot of others.
“We just got one case of acid attack and wife battering over the weekend, and the best way of curtailing such is to ensure that suspect or perpetuator is made to face the law.
“So,the law should adequately protect girl child and women; and the law should provide remedy and succor.
“Some cases we want our law to address are;if a woman is sexually violated, can she access free medical treatment?, we want such victim to access free counseling services,we want her to get justice,that part of justice is very important.
“We want her to get justice at the end because the violation they suffer is not remedy and it means that the impunity should continue.
Professor Ezilo said that there was spikes of rape cases during the Covid-19 outbreak but frowned upon the inability of these victims to get justice.
“We saw alot of spike during the Covid-19 time. We want to ensure accountability and that accountability starts with the law.
“It’s true that law is not panacea but it’s useful beginning. The problem is rather that perpetuators are not prosecuted in accordance with the law and that some laws are not adequate to deal with these sexual violence cases against women especially those that are on increase today like, rape, sexual harassment, trafficking in human being.
She mentioned beneficiaries states of the programme among Ebonyi, Lagos, Cross River,Adamawa, Sokoto and FCT and called for diligent prosecution of perpetuators to serve as deterent to others.
While commending Ebonyi State government for the quick passage of law incriminating violators of girl child and women rights,urged the stakeholders to join force to ensure zero tolerance on violence against women.
She charged Civil Society Organizations to embark on aggressive public sensitization on global zero tolerance to violence against women, even as they engage parliamentarians in ensuring that right laws are in place among those that requires amendment to tackle the menace squarely.
Meanwhile, the state programme manager SportLight Initiative project-UN Women, Mrs Anulika Ezennaya, said the training would further equip CSOs to propagate on laws against violence on girl child and women.
“The training has helped the participated civil Society Organizations to know that even when some state have adopted a law backing the fight against SGBV, that they are to vigorously engage in sensitizing the people about the content of the law.
“This is because,if people don’t know about the law, there’s no way they can try the law. Even some of the lawyers, if you do not sensitize them about the law and content of it, they will not try it at the law court.
“We should from time to time organize training for lawyers, Judges, and Magistrates to tell them about the law and build their capacity on the content of the law.
The event featured presentation by resource persons and was attended by various Civil Society Organizations.