The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) has appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan to sign the Violence against Persons Prohibition Bill (VAPP Bill) into law before leaving office. Mrs Chioma Onyenucheya-Uko, Assistant Public Relations Officer, FIDA, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja. Onyenucheya-Uko commended the National Assembly on the recent passage of the bill, adding that it was a great achievement to national development.
“We are asking for concerted effort to clamour for its assent by the President before he leaves the office.
“We are hoping that the President will exercise his discretion in favour of what is expedient and needful to sign the bill into law,’’ she said. Onyenucheya-Uko explained that the bill canvases for the punishment and prevention of different forms of violence and abuses. She added that the bill captures a broad array of offences that related to violence, whether physical, social, emotional or psychological. The spokesperson said that the punishment for various offences captured in the bill would further deter people from committing such offences.
“The bill will address the issue of gender based violence, women being harassed, rape and generally, issues militating on the rights of women,’’ she said. Onyenucheya-Uko said the existing laws had the challenge of proving that a crime had been committed against a person but too strict to get meaningful punishment for the perpetrators of such offence. “For the crime of rape, there is a requirement for prove of collaboration and people who commit such crime rarely serve a notice for that. “But this bill gives us a broader and more realistic definition of some of these offences.’’
The official said that rape was becoming sophisticated and was no longer the issue of men raping the women. She said that in the society today, there were instances of young men raping little boys, women raping girls, older men raping children of three years and less, among others. “In the bill, rape is no longer the unlawful penetration of a woman. “It means that if a man or a woman, penetrate unwillingly, in any opening of a victim’s body, such a person is guilty of rape.’’
Onyenucheya-Uko stated that the society was becoming violent and beyond the violent abuses, saying that the bill would criminalise spousal abandonment and indecent dressing among others. She said that VAPP bill comprised richer law that deals with different forms of violence, which is not only restricted to domestic violence but also the safety of public life.