‘No law legalises abortion or contradicts existing legislations in Imo’
Imo State chapter of the National Council for Women Societies (NCWS), yesterday, said the domestication of the Violence Against Persons (VAP) Prohibition law 2021 in the state does not contradict any existing laws in both the state and country.
NCWS alongside other affiliate groups, including Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), stated this while reacting to a statement credited to one Dr. Philip Njemanze.
Njemanze had, in a recent published article,argued that the VAPP law “legalises abortion, bans Holy Bible, ordains female priests, and crown women traditional rulers.”
But NCWS said Njemanze’s statement “lacks factual evidence, describing it as a gross misinterpretation of the provisions of the Imo State VAPP law.”
The group, in a statement by its National Research Coordinator, Mrs. Ijeoma Udensi, said contrary to Njemanze’s statement, “the domestication of the VAPP Law as a state law has provided the needed legal reprieve for women and girls in Imo State.”
She said: “Since the passage of the law, we have witnessed a coordinated synergy among state and non-state actors, who have established a multi-stakeholder body overseeing the implementation of the law.
“To add impetus to the implementation of this crucial legislation, her Excellency, ChiomaUzodimma, established the Deborah House, a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) in Owerri.”
She continued: “Among the gains of the VAPP law in the state is the end to the culture of silence. More people are reporting cases of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV), and demanding justice.
“Women and girls have become aware of their fundamental human rights. Furthermore, it has awakened the consciousness of the media who have lent their voice in dismantling stereotypes and biases.
“There is visible and increased male support for the campaign to end violence against persons in the state. The synergy so far built by this collective engagement using the VAPP law has also improved survivor support and access to justice.
“Abortion was never mentioned in the 2021 VAPP law. Abortion remains illegal in Nigeria, and the VAPP Law does not override existing laws. We, therefore, call on well-meaning citizens of the state to rely on accurate legal information rather than the misleading interpretations, which only exist in the fictional imagination of the author.”
Also, a member representing Oru-West State Constituency, Dominic Ezerioha; Chairman Owerri North Traditional Rulers, Eze Jude Nwago; senior legal officer, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC),
IhunanyachukwuOkoroji; Commander, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Mr. Ogbu Ernest, among others, described the law as timely and commendable,saying it should be embraced and supported to further guarantee the protection of individuals, especially the vulnerable from all forms of violence, including domestic violence, sexual assault, rape, child abuse, and other related offences.
According to them, “VAPP law provides the legal frameworks to prevent, prohibit, and punish acts of violence and provide support and protection for victims. The law also stipulates punishment for perpetrators of violence against persons, which could be either male or female.”
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