I have spoken widely and at length on Violence,especially on Domestic Violence on this blog,social media and on air ( Radio and Television) particularly the weak and or inadequate legislation,poor enforcement structures and mechanisms in Africa regarding the issue of violence.
This have resulted in impunity on the part of the perpetrators,being fully aware of the porosity and laxity in enforcing the law.
Nigeria is one of the Countries in Africa who have not been as pro active as expected ; both in passing the law against violence,especially Gender Based Violence and enforcing such law.
So you can imagine how elated I was ,when during my last visit to Nigeria I had the opportunity of meeting delegates to a seminar at which Gender based Violence ,Post Abortion care and Violence Against Person Prohibition Bill was being addressed by a group of Leaders and Seasoned Medical Practitioners.
The statistics,study and efforts were put together by The Legislative Advocacy Coalition on Violence Against Women ( LACVAW) Nigeria supported by UNICEF .
Like I said earlier,I have addressed Domestic violence extensively including the impact of Culture and Religion which are two major players in our Community.
I am therefore going to focus a bit more on Violence Against persons in general, what is being done or not both to prevent and support victims.
The research findings by (LACVAW) was hardly surprising ( See Chart) it is also a step in the right direction and a relief as we finally have some statistics to work with and out there for people to see the reality of Violence in the Nation of Nigeria.
Democracy in Nigeria -Violence Against Women (Prohibition) Bill
When Nigeria returned to democratic governance in 1999; one of the draft bills in the form of executive and private member bill submitted to both the National and State Houses of Assembly was the ‘Violence Against Women (Prohibition) Bill,2003 but the Bill was Not passed during that legislative session.
The Bill was submitted by legislative Advocacy Coalition on Violence against Women with support from the the International Human Rights Law Group.
These groups deserve an applaud for not giving up and for collaborating with other like minded stake holders to audit and revamp the Bill by renaming it “Violences Against Persons (Prohibition) Bill ‘ and relentlessly fought to get it passed mainly because they were concerned about the consistent failure to realise a legal framework to addressing the prevalence of violence in Nigeria.
The ( VAPP) BILL
Definition : The Bill For An Act (proposed legislation) To Eliminate Violence In Private And Public Life, Prohibit
All forms of violence including physical, sexual, psychological, domestic, Harmful Traditional Practices(HTP); discrimination Aaainst Persons and to provide maximum protection and effective remedies for victims and punishment of offenders
Purpose of the bill
It seeks to eliminate or reduce to a minimum the occurrence of gender based violence in the Nigerian society especially in the homes,public spaces or even in conflict situations. It is intent to protect the rights of Nigerians against violence especially violence against women. It aims to also address the current gaps in current laws on violence in private and public spaces and be able to respond to old and emerging forms of violence ,particularly gender based violence.
Features of the bill
One of the key features of The Bill is that it is gender neutral, acknowledging that all persons suffer some form of violence ; removing the criticism that (the previous Bill)was focused on only women.
Recognition of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), Female Circumcision and mistreatment/ violence against widows were also accommodated.
Another plus is the recognition of new forms of violence like the ‘Acid Bath’-I have personally seen two victims of acid bath; one had acid poured over her body and the other one in her Genital area and most of the lower half of her body. Only recently here in the UK,an African Female Model had acid thrown at her face.
I hope to be able to explore this Bill, its impact,controversies and its destiny in depth in another post in the near future.
Yes, very good and rational question. The short answer to that is No one knows- at least as we speak.
The bill went through successful public hearing at the House of Representatives during the 6th. National Assembly,but was not represented for 3rd. Reading and passage before it closed. It will be reintroduced to the 7th. Assembly.
I sincerely hope it will not take another seven years before this Bill is passed as Law.
Nigerian Citizens deserves More. It is also time for Africa to rise together and start ‘singing from the same song sheet ‘ against VIOLENCE.