The Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development says more than 17 states have so far passed the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act (2015) in Nigeria.
Mrs Jummai Mohammed, Director, Child Development, Ministry of Women and Social Development, said this at a roundtable discussion on Friday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the VAPP Act is a law that guarantees protection of the rights of all forms of sexual and gender-based violence victims in the country.
The discussion has as its theme, “Orange the World: Fund Respond, Prevent, Collect” as part of events to commemorate the 16 days of activism against gender based violence.
Mohammed said that only 17 or 18 states had domesticated the Act since it was enacted five years ago.
She said that the states included Kaduna, Plateau, Benue, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, Ogun, Lagos, Edo, Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi, Cross River and FCT among others.
According to him, some of the challenges hampering the implementation of the Act are religious and cultural beliefs.
“So far, we have attained 50 per cent passage of the law, hopefully before the end of 2021 all the states will be able to pass it.
“There is need for a high level advocacy and the ministry has been doing that. We are ensuring that traditional, religious and government at all level are carried along,” she said.
Mohammed said that the ministry would continue working to educate, enlighten, empower women and girls because that was the way forward towards curbing the menace of gender based violence.
Ms Jummai Lawan, Acting Country Director, Plan International Nigeria, an NGO, said that the 16 days of activism presented an important opportunity for engagement and awareness raising by governmental and non-governmental institutions to eliminate gender based violence .
Lawan said that the aim was to contribute to the developmental objectives of restoring to individuals their human dignity within the context of safer and more secure environments regardless of age, sex, ethnicity and other forms of identities.
“In spite of efforts made over two decades, violence against women and girls has continued to escalate to pandemic proportions as a result of the existing culture of silence and stigma.
“Not even the enactment of VAPP law has reduced prevalence of the incidences which has assumed the status of impunity,” she said.
Lawan said that the COVID-19 pandemic also brought to fore the cost of systemic inadequacy in the protection of the populace particularly women and girls.
She said that the pandemic was noted to have aggravated key risk factors for violence against women and girls such as food shortages, unemployment, economic insecurity, school closures, massive migration flows and threat of civil unrest.
She noted that while contributing to the alarming increase in multiply forms of gender based violence, it has also rolled back some key achievements attained in addressing harmful practices driven by existing gender inequalities.
She said that the organisation recognised that gender based violence was a universal reality which kills and disables many women and girls between ages 15 to 44.
Also, Mr Kevin Tokar, Counselor and Head of Development Cooperation, High Commission of Canada to Nigeria enjoined the media to continue to create awareness against the culture of silence on gender based violence which was a major challenge to ending the act.(NAN)