…demands Presidential assent to Anti-sexual Harassment Bill

By Chioma Obinna

To mark this year’s  International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women themed: “UNiTE! Activism to End Violence against Women & Girls”,  the Mothers And Marginalised Advocacy Centre (MAMA Centre), has called for preventive interventions targeted at the informal sector even as it demanded presidential to anti-sexual harassment Bill to protect students against any form of sexual harassment.

The Centre which also launched an empowerment project in a press statement by its Executive Director, MAMA Centre, Chioma Kanu,  commended all emerging and existing passion-driven efforts at the individual level with greater curiosity to advance human rights and preserve the dignity of women and girls across the globe.

“This to a large extent, includes human/women’s rights activists, who are currently held captive as political prisoners, tortured or silently murdered through varied extra-judicial means, or subjected to degrading treatments while protesting violence against women and girls or giving voice to the voiceless.

“We reiterate serious concerns that violence against women and girls persists at an unprecedented rate in a secluded dimension as witnessed in recent times, especially at the family level, where women or girls are remanded or held captive at home against their will, tortured and starved for their refusal to be subjective to undignified social norms or maintaining an independent position on their lives and future.”

She further recalled and condemned in totality, the recent cases in Yobe state involving the death of Sadiya Salihu, a middle-aged woman, who was reportedly locked by her husband, Ibrahim Yunusa Bature, in a room for one year without food; the death of an Abuja-based gospel artiste, Osinachi Nwachukwu, whose life was cut short through alleged abuse and domestic violence orchestrated by her husband in April 2022; and many other unreported cases across the country.

“We also observed little policy intervention or preventive engagement in the informal sector, which has hitherto harboured severe but under-reported cases of sexual abuse, harassment and rape of women and adolescent girls without appropriate sanctions. We are worried that this unchecked arm of society has normalised violence against women and adolescent girls as a daily phenomenon. 

“Just as we express total displeasure over emerging policy moves at sub-national levels to frustrate collective effort championed by Civil Society groups to promote social inclusion, social justice, self-determination, self-sufficiency and end violence against women and girls.

“We, therefore, call for targeted preventive engagement, policy interrogation and appropriate sanctions against systemic mainstreamed gender-based violence in the informal sector and within families.

“We also call for an increased psycho-emotional support system for the survivors of gender-based violence through institutionalised mechanisms like ‘safe space’ and proactive enforcement agencies to fully implement relevant provisions of existing laws including Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act.”

She further demanded prompt Presidential assent to the Anti-sexual Harassment Bill to protect students against sexual harassment, as well as prevent sexual harassment of students by educators in tertiary institutions.

“We further demand immediate release from political captivities, all human and women’s rights activists across the world.

In commemoration of the Day, the MAMA Centre under the aegis of the Accountability for Empowerment (A4E) project will be rolling out strategic activities to advance the socio-economic empowerment of Udi women/rightsholders in Enugu state.

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