As stakeholders continue to express worries about the serious effects of violence on women and girls, Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Dame Pauline Tallen has called for a robust implementation of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPP) by governors across the 36 states. She noted that action at the level of the states would go a long way to address the risks faced by women and girls, just as it will stem the tide of violence. The Minister made the call during the presentation of a report on the impact of the VAPP and other related laws in Nigeria organised by Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) in collaboration with the Women’s Trust Fund (WTF).
Dame Tallen further stressed that the state of gender-based violence has worsened since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. She added that the inability to get justice for victims of gender based violence in Nigeria indicates a gap that needs to be filled urgently. She therefore welcomed the research report, which collated data from 12 States of the federation on the impact of the VAPP law as an important document, which would guide policy makers and other stakeholders in making concrete budgetary allocations to address the identified gaps.
She said: “As at today, 20 States have domesticated the VAPP Act and we will continue to appeal to the remaining States to do same to give credence to our demands for gender justice in the country. I wish to reiterate that the domestication of the VAPP Act will ensure the elimination of discriminatory practices in Nigeria as we together work toward the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Ministry is opened to partnerships to bring an end to GBV in the country,” she said.
Describing President Muhammadu Buhari as a leader deeply concerned about the plight of women, the Minister narrated that the President’s prompt response to her memo to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on the need to declare gender based violence a national emergency has been helpful. She said the response of the President to the memo led to a presidential directive, which further mandated the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice to immediately inaugurate an Inter-Ministerial Gender Based Violence Management Committee. The Committee she stated has been working to proffer a synchronized approach address all forms of violence against women and children in the country.
Importantly, the Minister drew attention of President Buhari’s directive to the Inspector-General of Police mandating him to deal with all perpetrators of gender based violence in furtherance of the declaration of zero tolerance to rape and other Gender -Based Violence. These efforts, the minister narrated have led to constant engagement with the Police as an institution, on the need to promptly address issues of gender based-violence. Minster Tallen similarly touched on the effects of gender based violence in rural areas; she said it had become a developmental concern because of the grave consequences for the health and security of rural women and girls. “It also contributes to minimal participation of rural and urban women in all spheres of life. It further impoverishes women and also provides the foundation for increased feminization of poverty and other related diseases.”
Speaking further on the issue, the Lead Researcher, Mrs. Bunmi Dipo Salami stated that VAPP Act implementation revealed that as opposed 21 states reported by the Ministry of Women Affairs only 16 states have domesticated the law and out of these 16 states only 4 states are fully implementing the Act, while other states are still in different stages of implementation. The Lead Researcher also informed that the National Agency for the Prohibition of trafficking in person (NAPTIP) has been able to secured 616 convictions since the signing of the VAPP Act. She noted that another milestone from the report is the creation of a sex offender registers to name and shame offenders thereby transferring the victimization and stigmatization from the victim to the perpetrator.