Director-Generalof the National Centre for Women Development (NCWD), Barr. Mary Ekpere-Eta, has called for family, institutional and community support for survivors of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV).
Ekpere-Eta in a statement she signed in Abuja said #16-Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence 2020, was a time to genuinely support women and girls who survived acts of violence.
According to her, this will help in breaking the culture of silence around domestic violence which has led to many deaths and truncated dreams.
She urged that friends , families and associates of women who survive violent crimes should back them to seek justice, as there are laws that address violence against women.
She further stressed that families should stop treating SGBV as ‘family matter’, urging survivors of Gender Based Violence seek professional help for their physical and mental health.
The DG expressed regret that the COVID-19 lockdown led to the worsening of an already bad situation of violence against women across the country.
“We have recorded progress in terms of enacting laws that protect women from Sexual and Gender Based crimes. Laws like the Violence Against Person Prohibition Act (VAPP), other bills waiting to be passed by the House of Representatives, having been passed by the Senate like the prohibition of Sex-For-Grades bill, the amendment of the Criminal Code bill, which stops rape from being statutes barred, will help in protecting women from sexual predators.
“I call on states which haven’t domesticated the VAPP to do so, as timely prosecution and adequate sentencing of perpetrators of violence against women will embolden survivors to report cases for prosecution,” she said.
“The Covid-19 lockdown saw Nigeria’s already high incidence of domestic violence and rape worsen. This has brought to the fore, the need for government at all levels to invest in the protection and safety of our girls and women.
“At the federal level, I seek that among other interventions of government, that the scientific investigation and prosecution of sexual and domestic violence is factored into the Police Trust Fund. As it stands, Nigeria doesn’t have a standard rape kit, talk more of other modern equipment to scientifically prove rape and other acts of violence in court”, the statement added.
She called on all to ensure elimination of Sexual and Gender Based crime, charging families and communities to also Ensure that almost everywhere a woman or girl finds herself is a safe place as boys must also be raised to respect women’s choices, and children are thought sexual education through culturally acceptable ways to prevent sexual exploitation.