- With its unique approach of training and empowering gender advocates, a group of young Nigerians are taking peculiar steps to address gender-based violence
- Although, the issue is heightened by a lack of laws and policies to protect the most vulnerable and punish convicted offenders
- Connected Development is engaging all the stakeholders in Kano state and beyond, to ensure all the necessary steps in addressing the issue are taken
FCT, Abuja - Nigeria’s leading civil society organisation, Connected Development (CODE) has commenced a campaign towards eradicating gender-based violence in northern Nigeria, focusing on Kano state.
On Tuesday, November 9, the organisation, at a press briefing attended by a Legit.ng reporter, announced the launch of the second phase of its Galvanizing Mass Action Against Gender-Based Violence in Kano (GMAA-K) campaign.
Its target is to develop a multi-year Kano state action plan to end all forms of gender-based violence as well as drive the adoption and integration of the Violence Against Person Prohibition (VAPP) Act and the Child’s Right Act.
The GMAA-K campaign which is supported by the Canadian High Commission is a direct response to the menace of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) that is common practice in many states across Nigeria.
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Currently, Nigeria has the third-highest rates of SGBV in the world, with data showing that at least 30 percent of women and girls aged between 15 and 49 have experienced one or multiple forms of sexual abuse.
While speaking on the organisation’s approach to ending the menace, Hamzat Lawal, Chief Executive of CODE revealed that during the course of the first phase of the project, the Kano state government opted to harmonise the VAPP Act provisions into the Penal Code Law.
“For the first quarter of this year, we worked towards the adoption of the VAPP Act in Kano and recorded success as the government opted to harmonise/incorporate the VAPP Act provisions into the Penal Code Law, in order to reconcile provisions and have a single comprehensive law that addresses SGBV; the legal document is pending validation and enactment by the Kano state House of Assembly.”
He further stated that the new phase of the project will propel the validation exercise of the VAPP and Penal Code Law and equally work towards enhancing women’s rights.
On his part, the Acting Canadian High Commissioner, Kevin Tokar, submitted that SGBV is a crisis in Nigeria that must be condemned, stating that the campaign is both timely and necessary.
“It’s a crisis in Nigeria that we must condemn and work together to eliminate. For the past few years, we’ve seen a number of states in Nigeria pass and start to implement the VAPP Act which has given us hope but not all states have achieved this important milestone and much more work is needed, which is where our partnership with CODE comes into play.
“With Canada’s support, CODE will continue to galvanize mass action against SGBV in Kano state by ensuring the passage of the VAPP and Child’s Rights Act.”
Speaking on the health implication of SGBV and emphasizing the need for education, Dr. Halimah Nuhu Sanda, a public health professional who was also present at the press conference, said that SGBV must also be viewed as a public health issue because many victims are left traumatized after being abused and not enough support is provided for them.
“SGBV is often regarded as a human rights violation which is correct but it should also be viewed as a mental health issue because victims are often left traumatized after sexual violence and it affects their mental state.
“When no mental health support is provided to victims, we harbour a mentally oppressed society.”
How CODE influenced VAPP law in Adamawa state
The governor's decision was influenced by CODE’s advocacy for girls’ education in the northeast state.
CODE had partnered with Malala Fund to combat child marriage and increase school enrollment especially for the girl-child in the state.
CSOs concerned about rising cases of violence against women
Earlier in the year, a coalition of Civil Society Organisations, CSOs under the aegis of #StateofEmergencyGBV Movement, raised an alarm over the rising cases of violence against women in Nigeria.
The CSOs stated that the cases have been on the rise despite the State of Emergency on Gender-Based Violence, GBV declared by Nigerian governors in 2020.
The groups made their concerns known at a press conference in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja attended by a Legit.ng reporter.