By Gabriel Olawale
THE Centre for Women’s Health and Information, CEWHIN, weekend, called for more collaboration to stem increasing cases of gender based violence in Nigeria.
Speaking during a two-day gender mainstreaming training workshop for the Justice Sector Partners towards better integration of VAWG/SGBV/HP in their institutional plans and programmes in Lagos State, Director of Administration CEWHIN, Atinuke Odukoya said that the lockdown during COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that a lot of gender based violence are going on in the communities.
She said the situation which threatens the lives and livelihoods of women and girls made the United Nations label the country ‘shadow pandemic’.
Odukoya said: “Statics shows that Nigeria has long been facing a gender-based violence crisis, with 30 percent of women and girls aged 15-49 having experienced sexual abuse.
“Looking at the three states, Lagos State, Ogun State and Federal Capital Territory that were placed under full lockdown by the Federal Government, the increase in reports of domestic violence cases rose from 60 in March, 2020 to 238 in April same year, that is an increase of 297 percent. When you look at the number of reported cases in March and April, respectively for 23 out of 36 states in Nigeria in which data are available, it shows a monthly increase of 149 percent due to lockdown.”
Atinuke hinted that a lot needed to be done to address the issue of gender-based violence in Nigeria.
She said: “The good thing is that people are now learning to speak out and seek for help. They are learning not to die in silence. Awareness creation is high and capacity of officers to handle these cases is also being boosted.
“This workshop is funded by UNDP, under the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative to engage participants from the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, and Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.
“CEWHIN’s engagement with the paramilitary agencies as part of its activities to build the capacity of law enforcement agents on prevention and response to SGBV has yielded positive results and the agencies have pledged to step up their surveillance of SGbv/VAWG within Lagos State.”
Corroborating her views, Gender and Development Specialist, Chibogu Obinwa said that lack of coordination amongst key stakeholders and poor implementation of legal frameworks, combined with entrenched gender discriminatory norms, has hampered government and civil society efforts to address gender-based violence in Nigeria.
Obinwa said: “We need to push for implementation of laws that protect women and girls against gender-based violence; we have to also crease awareness in the communities for people to understand their rights and options available for them to get justice.”