By Victoria Ojeme
British High Commissioner, Catriona Laing has said that Nigeria witnessed alarming increase in sexual and gender based violence during the lockdown.
To mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the start of the 16 days campaign, the British High Commissioner, Catriona Laing, recorded a video message in which she said: “with COVID we have seen alarming increases in sexual and gender based violence including sadly here in Nigeria where the numbers are really very disturbing.
The United Nations theme for this year, which the High Commission will be fully supporting is Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!.
To mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the start of the 16 days campaign, the British High Commissioner, Catriona Laing, recorded a video message in which she said:
‘Violence including sexual violence against women, girls and boys is the most widespread form of human rights abuse worldwide.
It affects women, girls and boys across the whole country, all ethnicities, all social classes, so nobody can feel completely protected. So what can we do about it? Well that brings me back to the 16 Days of Activism and the theme this year is “Orange the World: Fund, Prevent, Respond, Collect.”
This is going to be a priority for me personally over the next 16 Days and of course throughout the year. We will be working very closely with our partners in government, the ministry of Women’s Affairs, with the UN Women, the many brilliant women’s’ organisations out there like the Mirabel Centre and other civil society organisations.
But also groups like the Northern and Southern Governors’ Wives Forum who have done fantastic work pioneering in this area, as well as religious leaders and traditional leaders.
I urge everyone to please see what you can do across those 4 dimensions and get involved yourself.’
Women and girls from all corners of the world continue to experience violence and abuse. Violence against women and girls is a serious challenge in Nigeria as well.
Our conversations with respected Sexual Assault Referral Centres in Nigeria like Mirabel Centre, WARIF and STER has shown that a scaled up global response is more urgent than ever.
The silence over violence against women and girls is usually reinforced by a non-supportive legal system that fails to criminalize domestic violence which is why we applaud states that have signed into law the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act and continue to encourage through dialogue, other states yet to pass the act.
The United Kingdom continues to support Nigeria at Federal and state levels and with Civil Society to develop interventions that tackle the longer-term structural cause of violence and advance the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda. For example, the UK launched a new Nigeria programme this year through the UK’s CSSF Fund to strengthen state capacities and women’s participation in COVID response and broader peacebuilding initiatives.
And we welcome the European Union and United Nations Joint Spotlight Initiative, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, for a national data situation room on Gender-Based Violence (GBV), which will help decision makers to understand in real time, the scale of the menace and how best to address the issues.
The 16 Days campaign, annually commemorated worldwide, commences on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and lasts until 10 December, the Human Rights Day.