Gender BasedViolence (GBV) is a global problem which assumes various dimensions countryafter country in response to prevalent socio-cultural environment. In Nigeria,wide spread poverty, ethnic and religious conflicts, violent cult activities insecondary and tertiary institutions and militarization of national life, havegenerally increased the incidence of violence and insecurity of life andproperty for all citizens. Women are however confronted with GBV in their dailylives in so many ways that do not apply to men.
Gender specificviolence has adverse effects on the health and welfare of women. It results inpsychological trauma, loss of self-esteem, hatred of men and sexuality,continued cycles of violence, self-blame, stigmatization and loss of dignity.Rape tortures women mentally, physically and psychologically. It can result invarious manifestations of sexually transmitted diseases, including the dreadedHIV /AIDS, or in pregnancy and children born out of rape, a curse to both thewomen and the children.
Unfortunately,gender violence against women, especially sexual violence in times of armedconflict is shrouded in silence. This is because of the stigma it carries, thepowerlessness of the women and their loss of faith in the law, as well associety’s lack of prioritization of women’s issues, especially in situations ofarmed conflicts, when society believes that the issues of war have to do withmen. At such times, as in peace time, society tends to trivialize the violenceas wearing a woman’s face. Sadly too, when it comes to war the use of rape as aweapon continues.
As developmentworkers and stakeholders, we need to join forces to help peel off the silencesurrounding the brutality of gender-based violence that cross all boarders.According to Annie Lennox, the British singer, “Violence against women threatensthe lives of more young women than cancer, malaria or war. It affects one inthree women world-wide. It leaves women mentally scarred for life, and it isusually inflicted by a family member’’
Issues to ponder
What shall wetell our children? What kind of world are we leaving for them? Will GBV and itsexacerbation in situations of armed conflict ever stop? When will Nigeria startimplementing existing laws against GBV especially those that take place indomestic situations? When will there ever be timelines and benchmarks forimplementations as well as sanctions for those that fail to comply with theselegally binding conventions and resolutions? How do we deal with the leaders ofthis country who have lost their sense of shame? These are some of the questionsthat this forum needs to consider seriously.
Demanding theelimination of GBV is about protecting human rights and ensuring that womenlive in safety and dignity, ensuring that existing laws are implemented. Justlike Joanne Sandler, one time acting ED of UNIFEM said, ‘’the gaps inaddressing GBV are in terms of political will, resources and the stronginvolvement of men and boys in insisting on zero tolerance. If we can’t put anend to the pandemic of violence against women, we can’t achieve any of theother agreed goals, development, equality or peace.”
There isevidence of gaps and deficiencies in linkages, skills and capacity for responseto GBV among the operatives of relevant institutions. The thrust of theViolence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act which responds to the systemicforms and high prevalence of GBV is justified. The call for action throughenactment of legal framework to both addresses the menace and to save thefamily unit and the society, is an imperative. We need to see theimplementation of the VAPP Act. Work done in this area affirms the globaldictum of GBV lacking boarders, directions or social classification. Typicalforms of violations occur both in urban and rural settings with no significantvariation on prevalence, forms, age or content. Meanwhile, the scope of contentof responses to GBV remains an evolving issue with current initiatives laudablebut grossly inadequate or inappropriate in some cases. At other levels, theweak professionalism as displayed by key institutions or their operativesstarting with the quality of documentation affect the quantum of justice thatcould be obtained or awarded. This has encouraged a culture of impunity amongperpetrators and despondency in victims/survivors. Therefore, there is need tooperationalize the law to make access to justice and the quest for protectionfrom further abuse or violation easier and more victim supportive.
#Gender and Accountability
Mrs Nsekpong Udoh, PhD
Community Partners for Development
Member UN Women Civil Society AdvisoryGroup (CSAG)
Representing South-South GeopoliticalZone
No. 6 Akpkpan Street, Uyo