By Rotimi Ojomoyela
Ado-Ekiti-Worried at the increasing rate of sexual violence against women in the Country and the seemingly feeble effort at tacking the scourge, the Wife of Ekiti State Governor, Mrs Bisi Fayemi has called on the Federal government to declare a state of emergency on the menace in the country.
Mrs Fayemi said the declaration would bring about the political will to fight the scourge and would also enable the states that had passed the law on Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, to implement the law to the fullest.
The Wife of the Governor who stated this in her keynote address at the 20th anniversary of Project Alert on Violence Against Women in Lagos, said the passage of the VAPP law will lend support to the array of women organizations that work in very remote hard- to -reach areas.
“It has taken a long time but we have some laws in place. We have the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, and out of the 36 States of Nigeria, only 11 States have domesticated this law. Even for those who have domesticated the law, there is an issue of resources. We are talking about financial resources, human resources, materials resources, as well as technical resources.
“We do need resources to push these issues through but we need the political will to drive the allocation of those resources. I will like to lend my voice to the voice of all the feminist organizations, human rights and civil society organizations in the country, calling for more attention to what has now become a national pandemic of gender-based violence, particularly sexual violence.
“In my own opinion, I believe we need the State of Emergency in Nigeria on sexual violence in particular. I think we need to call for more political will and that will hopefully drive things such as ensuring that those States who have passed the VAPP Act can implement it to the fullest, at least try their best.
“I will like to call for political will, I will like to call for resources and I will like to also call for a lot more partnerships and information sharing.
Mrs Fayemi charged the participating organisations to focus their effort more on community engagement.
“I am based in Ekiti, which is a predominantly rural state, and so it’s not a State where everyone can have access to information via what’s happening on TV, Radio and so on.
“And so there are certain gatekeepers that we need to engage, who still hold deeply conservative views. A lot of religious leaders, traditional rulers, we have female chiefs, we have a whole array of people. We need to do a lot more work there. Because if communities don’t own response to gender-based violence, God forbid that sexual violence then become normalize.”
A major highlight of the event was the inter-generational dialogue on Gender –based violence. The Ekiti State First Lady was also honoured with the Excellence Award in Women’s Rights Activism by Project Alert.