Faith, culture leaders must correct perception inflicting violence against women, girls, says Justice Fati Abubakar
Wife of former Head of State, General Abdulsalam Abubakar, Justice Fati Lamin Abubakar has challenged religious and cultural leaders to lead new conversation to correct perception that justifying violence against women and girls in the country.
Justice Abubakar, expressed concern over the prevailing victimisation and stigmatisation against female gender over a perceived violence of social norms erroneously aligned to religious and cultural tendencies.
The former first lady raised the concern in Kano at a one-day national dialogue with inter-faith and culture leaders towards addressing the prevalence of violence against women and girls organised by Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA) in collaboration with Bayero university Kano Centre for Islamic Civilization and Interfaith Dialogue (CICID).
Justice Abubakar, who is the founder and Chairman WRAPA Board of Trustees, wanted stakeholders to use their moral and spiritual appeal to galvanise ‘practical social accountability measures’ to check the menace.
Addressing the workshop virtually, Abubakar believed it is high time stakeholders moved from rhetorics to action to demonstrate zero tolerance to violence against women and girls in the country.
While lamenting against the culture of silence by survivors of molestation because of societal abuse, she believed stakeholders could help mitigate the menace by encouraging victims to speak out and access justice.
“Religious and traditional leaders and institutions are deeply rooted at all social levels in all communities. They command respect, trust and loyalty enabling them to exercise acceptable albeit limited sanctions for social deviation by members in their domains or congregations.
“It is hope that the dialogue provide an avenue for sincere conversations to correct perceptions and mis-representations that allow narratives justifying some forms of violence against women and girls in different social settings,” Abubakar noted.
Former Director, Bayero University, Kano Centre for Gender Studies, Professor Aisha Ismail, who drew the nexus between social norms and violence against women and girls (VAWG), insisted faith and culture based leaders must chart a reformed norms to change public perceptions.
In her presentation, ‘The Intersection of social norms and VAWG, identification/characterisation and evaluation of VAWG in homes and communities’; Ismail spelt out the roles of various stakeholders including government, communities to transform and gender sensitive norms in the society.
The university don, tasked ministry of justice to initiate gender equitable reform and laws that support protection of women and girls.
She insisted that government must ensure prompt prosecution and speedy justice against perpetrators of violence against women and girls in Nigeria.
In their separate submission, representatives of Islamic and Christian religions as well as culture, agreed that no practices or principles rooted from scriptures and the traditional values support violence against women and girls.
The religious and culture stakeholders, who equally worried over the prevalence of unfriendly norms mitigating the right and liberty of women and girls in the society, however, attributed the anomalies to strange attitudinal change of young generation. They equally blamed the increasing levels of violation to lack of enforcement mechanism and adequate sanction against violators.