A Civil Society Organisation, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC), has lamented the continued abuse and violence against women and girls in Nigeria despite the domestication of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, by states.
The organisation, however, linked prevalence of the menace to lack of political will to implement the VAPP act and improper coordination among various government institutions.
Execute Director, WARDC, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, stated these in Abuja, at a two-day National Consultation and agenda setting meeting on the implementation of VAPP law in Nigeria for women organisations across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The parley was organised by WARDC and funded by the African Women’s Development Fund (AFWD).
Akiyode-Afolabi, who disclosed that although only four states were yet to domesticate the VAPP act aimed at reducing Gender-Based Violence (GBV), Nigeria has made little progress in terms of implementing the law.
According to her, the absence of a special court to hasten access to justice for survivors also serves as a barrier to justice for GBV victims and survivors
She said: “Despite the VAPP law, the data is still not good enough because there is issue of political will. A number of factors had driven the prevalence of the incidence of GBV, some of which are the deeply rooted cultural beliefs, perceptions and norms, community acquiescence and stigmatisation.
“We must reckon with the reality that violence against women is escalated gender-based violence. The lockdowns and quarantine measures enacted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the social isolation they have caused, contributed to an alarming increase in physical, psychological, sexual and economic violence against women.
“Sustainability of GBV intervention is also undermined by limited funding, the absence of public budget allocation for GBV enables reliance on donor funding, which in most cases are time bound. The nature of GBV is recurrent and outlives the timeline for donor funding.
“At the community levels, traditional patriarchal norms still persist and fan the embers of GBV. Religious and traditional institutions that are key players in attitudinal and behavioral changes are rather perpetuators or sympathisers with perpetuators of GBV.”
Stressing that the pandemic has revealed the stark inequalities in Nigeria, particularly limitations of GBV prevention and response interventions prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, Akiyode-Afolabi said there is a need for specialised courts to address sexual and gender-based violence across Nigeria.