By Kelvin Obambon
The Cross River State Government, through the Ministry of Women Affairs, and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have flagged of the 16 Days Of Activism Against Gender Based Violence in the state.
Addressing a press conference to officially flag off the event in Calabar on Saturday, the Commissioner for Women Affairs, Mrs Edema Irom, stated that the 16 days of activism is a yearly event which begins on the 25th of November and ends on 10th December.
According to her, the day was set aside by the UN to commemorate the brutal murder of 16 women from the Dominican Republic who were killed for their activism against gender based violence.
“It is with a sense of duty and responsibility that I address you on this journey we have jointly undertaken as a people with a united purpose. Today we join the world over to begin activities marking the 2023 16 days of activism against gender based violence with theme UNiTE! INVEST TO END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS.
“It also marks the World Day for HIV prevention on 1st December, International Day for Persons with Disability 3rd December and ends on 10th December which is the International Human Rights Day.
“Today we honour all those who have fought and sometimes paid the ultimate price for an end to violence against women and girls the world over including Nigeria. We honour them because they paid the noble price for some of the privileges and freedoms women and girls are enjoying today. Yet there are still more freedoms we long for, looking at the gender inequality gaps, the discrimination suffered by women and girls with disabilities, the stigma and rejection suffered by women and girls living with HIV and AIDS, women and girls who are displaced, the constant increase in cases of sexual violence and harmful traditional practices still ongoing such as the child marriage, female genital mutilation etc,” she said.
Speaking further, the Commissioner disclosed that “More than 1 in 3 women experiences gender based violence in their life time. More than 5 women or girls are killed every hour by some one in their family. Less than 40% of Women who experience GBV seek help of any sort. Violence against Women and Girls remains the most pervasive human right violation around the world. Its prevalence is now being further increased by the crisis of climate change, global conflict and economic instability.”
Irom also stated that her ministry in collaboration with GBV response and prevention actors in the State have a line up of activities within the 16 days to advocate for an end to all forms of violence against women and girls.
She, however, thanked the state government for ensuring that certain legal provisions such as the violence against persons prohibition (VAPP) law and the disability rights law are in place.
“We are also commending government and especially the judiciary for having designated an additional family court for hearing of cases. This is a good start and we are very grateful, but just like Oliver twist we wish to ask for more. We are calling for support for the passage of the 5 gender bills at the national assembly by our national legislators, the provision and release of funds at the state level for the implementation of the VAPP, the CRL, Disability rights laws and other laws that prohibits VAWG in the state.
“We call on the media to publicise existing legislation for public knowledge as well as prosecuted cases, we call on the security agencies and other ministries, departments and agencies saddled with prevention and response activities to respond more swiftly to cases of SGBV in the state. We call for the sexual offence register domiciled in the citizens rights department of the CRS ministry of Justice be made functional and accessible, we call for speedy dispensation of cases of VAWG in our courts.
“We call on our ever supportive traditional leaders and institutions to ensure HTPs do not take place in their communities. We call on communities to have in place by-laws that will support the implementation of the VAPP, CRL, Disability rights law and other legislation that support an end to VAWG in the state. We will not fail to thank our non state actors such as the NGOs and CBOs in the state for the great work they have been doing in responding to issues of VAWG in the state. The technical support, material and financial support etc. We call for capacity building and collaboration from state and non state actors to support efforts aimed at bringing issues of gender based violence to its barest minimum if not eradicating it completely in the state.
“We are all here as actors working in the space of gender to flag this year’s activities off in one spirit. Despite some discouraging trends, there is more proof than ever that violence against women and girls is preventable.
“Once again, we are grateful to the Governor of Cross River State, HE Senator Prince Bassey Edet Otu for providing an enabling environment, we are also grateful to all the partners in the state for such massive support. Together we shall bring an end to VAWG/SGBV in the state,” she concluded.