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INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ELIMINATION OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

By Innocent Doris U ESQ

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This day was declared on December 17, 1999, by the United Nations (UN), 20 years ago, but the history of this day, dates back to 1981. This day is very relevant as the world seeks to bring Gender Based Violence and injustice against women to an end. This year’s theme is Generation Equality stands against rape. As we celebrate the International day for the elimination of violence against women, I am caught in a dialogue within, a reality check on the import of this day and the difference in the prevalence of violence against women in Nigeria 20 years ago and in our present day.

The present glaring reality of Gender Based Violence in Nigeria is quite alarming. The prevalence of Gender Based Violence is at an all time high with minors and babies at risk of becoming rape survivors. We must speak up against this endemic evil that is beginning to eat into the fabrics of our society; we must do all we can to avoid it from becoming a norm. We must protect our women and children from this terrible act. Movies like Ovys voice, alter ego, Code of Silence amongst other numerous Nolly wood movies depict the after math of rape and the different psychological trauma that victims of rape go through.

Rape is a Crime, not a civil matter that can be settled. In my line of work I have seen mistakes that victims and guardians make when a rape incidence occurs. These costly mistakes end up affecting the victim and eventually the case.

Rape has been defined by Section 1(1) of the VAPP Act 2015.

A person commits rape if –

  • He or She intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person with any other part of his or her body or anything else;
  • The other person does not consent to the penetration Or
  • The consent is obtained by force or means of threat or intimidation of any kind or by fear or harm or by means of false and fraudulent representation as to the nature of the actor the use of any substance or additive capable of taking away the will of such person or in the case of a married person by impersonating his or her spouse.

It is important to know what to do when a rape incident has occurred:

  • Report to the nearest Government Hospital immediately for tests and a detailed test report.
  • Get a professional counselor to help the victim heal emotionally and mentally.
  • Get a lawyer

 

At this point, it is important to reiterate that parents and guardians should keenly watch their children and take reports made to them about harassment or suggestive words very seriously. A lot of child rape would have been prevented only if the parents or guardians of the victims had taken the cues their children had given them, listened to them or even acted on the reports they were given. Studies have shown that Child rape or violations are perpetuated mostly by familiar people or people the children trust. So parents are enjoined to be extra careful of who they allow to have access to their children or wards.

 

In conclusion, Lawyers Alert is always here for you to make reports of any violation of human rights. If you are aware of anyone whose rights have been violated, please contact us through any of our platforms, our numbers are on the website. We look forward to hearing from you.

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ELIMINATION OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN FROM ALL OF US AT LAWYERS ALERT

 

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CAVEAT

Lawyers Alert hereby puts our readers on notice that this article is based on the writers opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of the organization except otherwise stated.

 

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SEXUAL RIGHTS VIOLATION IN NIGERIA

By Doris U. Innocent Esq

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Sexual rights embrace certain human rights that are already recognized in national laws, international human rights documents, and other consensus documents. They rest on the recognition that all individuals have the right—free of coercion, violence, and discrimination of any kind—to the highest attainable standard of sexual health; to pursue a satisfying, safe, and pleasurable sexual life; to have control over and decide freely, and with due regard for the rights of others, on matters related to their sexuality, reproduction, sexual orientation, bodily integrity, choice of partner, and gender identity; and to the services, education, and information, including comprehensive sexuality education, necessary to do so.

Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights SRHR, in Nigeria is an area which, owing to culture and religion, is neither making as much progress nor being given as much space for expression in comparative terms with more “acceptable” rights. Violence against Women and Girls, Abortion, Same Sex Relationships, Female Sex Work, Rights of Persons Living with Affected by or Most at Risk of HIV, Female Genital Mutilation, Unlimited Access to Family Planning, Rights of Persons Living With Disabilities etc. are all issues that citizens regularly confront yet fail to attract the commensurate attention in the positive, from authorities.

The cry out against sexual rights violations in Nigeria is a very serious issue. Sexual rights violations are real and they stare at us every day in our neighborhoods, families and different circles of association. We believe that the first thing we must understand about these individuals is that they are human beings. They are entitled to their basic human rights, they are deserving of love, understanding and acceptance. A lot of organizations have carried out public sensitization, awareness and campaigns through various channels in Nigeria regarding issues related to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. This is an applaud-able approach to dealing with the glaring issues of SRHR violations inherent in our society. There still remain quite a number of people who are either victims of sexual violations or are at risk of becoming victims of sexual rights violation. These victims are usually at left at their own peril, they are seen as objects of constant abuse and discrimination by members of the society.

Lawyers Alert is an established Human Rights Organization with an internationally recognized track record of successful interventions in relation to Human Rights abuses in Nigeria. It is made up of lawyers and other professionals with members across the 36 states of Nigeria. It builds capacity on essentially eco-socio rights, advocacy/legislative engagement, and organizational development. Its programs are essentially the monitoring of rights violations, legal assistance and interventions geared towards enhancing good governance. Lawyers Alert was founded in the year 2000, it was birthed from the place of passion to fight and restore the rights of those whose human rights have been infringed upon. Lawyers Alert has been in the forefront of promoting women’s rights in Nigeria ever since. We have carried out many projects which have impacted positively on the lives of thousands of women and children. Presently, we are implementing projects aimed at eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls, eliminating sexual and reproductive health and rights violation and providing free legal services to victims.

Notwithstanding, Lawyers Alert’s vision remains clear: A developed Nigeria where the rights of vulnerable groups, especially women are respected. Similarly, her mission has not changed: To promote the rights of vulnerable groups, especially women through advocacy and through provision of free legal services. We are not relenting. We will keep doing the best we can to ensure we carry out our mission and achieve our vision. Denial of an individual’s rights is denial of the rights of all. We will always have mothers, wives, aunt, sisters and daughters with us. They are all entitled to their rights. We should individually and collectively stop violating their rights. And we should do the best we can to protect and defend their rights. This is our yearning for Nigeria, and together we can achieve this. Here at LawyersAlert, we have taken up the responsibility to bear the burdens of people whose sexual rights have been violated or at risk of being violated. We also make periodic violation reports, with instrumentality of our web based tool. You can get to know us better through our website http://lawyersalertng.org/ .

It is on this premise that we invite the general public as always to report human right and sexual rights violation against them and other people, we also encourage you to refer people in need of our services to us. We assure you, that we will work to ensure that justice is served.

 

 

 

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NIGERIA: VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN; ANY PROGRESS?

…….Roseline Funmilayo, Legal Officer, Lawyers Alert

Violence against women has always been known to be an ugly aspect of the average Nigerian society.  The Nigerian woman from data and media reports, as in many patriarchal societies, is exposed to gross abuses within domestic and outer circles, including political leadership.

Yet it cannot be denied that women activists, local and international NGOs, Inter-governmental agencies etc. have over the decades, put in quite an appreciable amount of efforts, woman hours and resources into reversing the trend.

On the surface, has there been any progress?

With regard to laws and policies, a probable yes, in practice, a tentative no. Even though CEDAW is yet to be domesticated, the spirit of the convention is alive in local laws, like the Gender Equality Law in several states of the country, 30% affirmative action especially at the federal level has largely ben complied with especially within the present federal government, Nigeria has produced a female Chief Justice of the Federation and a Finance Minister. So largely very good commentary on the legal and policy sides of the divide.

In practice though, these laws have hardly translated into meaningful impact at the local and rural level where more than 80% of women who really suffer violence, abuse and discrimination reside in Nigeria. Are women activist efforts geared more at laws and policies at the expense of the rural women in practice? Harmful traditional practices like FGM, early marriages, inheritance denial on grounds of gender are still abound in Nigeria.  Women in difficult situations in marriages would rather stay in and keep up with the domestic violence from their husbands than seek help from institutions built up to render such services cause of lack of cooperation.

The National Human Rights Commission during the publication of its newsletter October to December 2013 on page 6 reported a story of a middle aged Nigerian woman who was stabbed on the waist and right breast by her  husband.  She reported the matter to the Human Rights Commission because having first reported to the police. The Police took informed her, her case was a domestic issue and should be settled at the family level. This is just one of the many cases of violence against women where in practice the law encourages and tacitly endorses.

Even though the female Genital Mutilation (FGM) which done largely to prevent girls from being promiscuous, but dire health consequences latter in the life of the female, is still tacitly approved of. No person has been prosecuted as a deterrent, and local midwives actively continue to implement this, and in fact train new midwives on the art of female circumcision.

Traditions exist in Nigeria where a woman is forced to drink the water used to bath deceased husband as a proof that she is not culpable in the death of the husband in some climes today in rural Nigeria! There is no gain saying that this barbaric act has very gross implications on the life of the woman. In some other traditions a woman is left in the same room with her deceased husband for many nights, she is not allowed to step out of the room, she is not allowed to have a bath and her hair is completely shaven. Yes, in 2015.

In the light of this, perhaps women rights issues should reconsider or at least balance policy and legal efforts to practical efforts in terms of grassroots awareness campaign towards attitudinal change. Often we go, hurray, we got that law passed, forgetting that it is in effect just a printed paper unless it is activated and impacts in the lives of the citizen, in this case, the rural woman.

We should rise up to this challenge, not to rest on our oars, but ensure all forms of violence against the rural Nigerian woman is eradicated or reduced to the barest minimum by creating an grassroots awareness, enlighten women especially women in the rural areas on their basic rights and how to recognize the abuse of those rights and report on them. Maybe we will then begin to reach the women left behind.

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2015 in Women Rights and Gender

 

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