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Group flays Uzodimma over delay of VAPP law to end gender-based violence

By Collins Osuji, Owerri
26 November 2021   |   2:51 am
A group Alliance for Africa has decried Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma over his failure to sign the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act 2013, saying absence

A group Alliance for Africa has decried Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma over his failure to sign the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act 2013, saying the absence of the law is a major challenge to ending Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) in the state.

The group, in collaboration with the Imo State Committee on Ending Violence Against Women and Girls (ISCEWAWG), led by Marjorie Ezihe, stated this in Owerri, yesterday, at the start of the 16 days of activism and yearly international campaign against gender-based violence.

Its Executive Director, Iheoma Obibi, argued that the absence of the law was responsible for rising sexual violence and gender-based crimes in the state, adding that in spite of efforts of stakeholders in creating awareness and frontline response services, the menace had continued unabated.

She disclosed that between April 2020 and October 2021, the group recorded over 250 incidences of sexual assault on minors, among other cases of VAWG crimes, which according to her, were perpetrated under the guise of culture, tradition and religion.

“It is worthy of note that of the 36 states in Nigeria, 20 states have signed the VAPP bill, while Imo remains the only state in the South East yet to adopt the bill, as a working document for the protection of survivors of sexual assault,” Obibi said.

“The VAPP is the single law that transcends the criminal and penal code in guaranteeing justice and protection of the rights and property of victims of sexual and gender-based violence through its expansion of the definition of rape, domestic offenses, incest and several other forms of violence.

“It ensures justice and protection of victims in a way that guarantees freedom, compensation and respect for human rights. More so, it upholds the equal dignity and rights of men and women.”

The group, therefore, urged Uzodimma to sign the VAPP bill to make it a working document, leverage existing unutilised state edifices to establish a safe home for safeguarding survivors from abusers and establish the Violence Against Persons’ Agency that will monitor and supervise the full implementation of the provisions of the VAPP.

“It will include, but not be limited to a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) to provide services that will assist in the reintegration of survivors into society and create an active state GBV rapid response team that will ensure the provision of survivor-centred services,” it added.