North East states move to pass VAPP bill into law
To end violence against women and children in the North East, Houses of Assembly speakers of the region’s six states are fast-tracking the passage of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) bill.
Chairman of the North East Conference of Speakers, Abubakar Suleiman, stated this in Gombe during a roundtable of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) with lawmakers in the zone on the proposed bill.
The meeting was organised by African Women Development Fund (AWDF) and facilitated by the Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC).
Suleiman, the Speaker of Bauchi assembly, described gender-based violence as not only human rights violation but also a threat to life and public health.
It is the responsibility of legislators to make laws that would benefit the people, he added.
According to him, research has shown that women are exposed to high level of sexual violence, domestic violence, sexual exploitation and abuse, with little or no opportunity to seek justice.
“In Nigeria, our value system is changing and the inequality in the society manifests in the prevalence of violence against women.
“Our determination to support a violence-free society is, therefore, part of our call to duty, and sitting here today, our mission is to answer this call,” he said.
Executive Director of WARDC, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, said the bill would address the many challenges women face.
Mrs. Akiyode-Afolabi expressed dissatisfaction with the level of reportage of cases of violence experienced by women.
“One reason for poor reportage is the stigma associated with being a victim of rape. Most victims prefer to conceal rape cases to save themselves from shame and public embarrassment,” she said.
According to her, the incidence of sexual assault is alarming and seems not to be subsiding.
“Recent data from the Inspector General of Police (IGP) showed that over 700 cases of rape have been treated.
“I believe this is the best time for speakers to act and support the passage of the VAPP bill. Our gathering today has this aim and I sincerely wish we will move it forward from here,” Akiyode-Afolabi added.
Speakers from Adamawa, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe assured that efforts were already being made in their states to ensure the passage of the bill.
As at press time, it is only Bauchi assembly that has passed the bill in the region.
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