The Nigerian Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs. Pauline Tallen has vowed that her ministry, working in conjunction with others, will work hard to put a stop to practices that jeopardize the health of female children and impugn on the dignity of female gender in the country.
She complained that despite advancement in technology and extant laws, Nigeria still remain one of the few countries in the world with high rate of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) cases.
She said that such harmful practice persists in spite of a number of reforms and laws to curb the trend.
The Minister, who spoke on the sidelines of various activities to commemorate the 2021 International Day of the girls child in Abuja, Nigeria, further decried the general, increasing cases of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) against women and girls in spite of the domestication of extant laws in the country.
Paulline Tallen said: “although government has undertaken a number of health reforms, including laws against harmful traditional practices, many cultural and religious practices still put the health of women in doldrums.
“I wish to state that the ministry is committed to abolishing all traditional practices that endanger the health and dignity of girls and womanhood in Nigeria and in this regard, will work more with the Ministry of Health.”
She said that violence and harmful practices endanger the lives of women and girls, hence the need for all states of the federation to domesticate laws and implement them to serve as deterrent and eliminate it in totality.
According to her, in spite of government and partners’ positive interventions, high and community level advocacy, capacity building of circumcisers, including provision of alternate income for circumcisers, the practice of FGM still persists.
She, therefore, urged stakeholders to support girls and women and ensure the implementation of all enacted policies/laws on ending SGBV and harmful practices.
In an interview too, the Founder of Hope for Second Chance Foundation (HOSEC), an NGO, Mrs. Ibukunoluwa Otesile said that the culture of silence by survivors and their families impedes success in eliminating SGBV and harmful practices in the country.
“The culture of silence is one of the things that has continued to endanger violence against women and children in Nigeria. The culture makes it difficult for the tools that the government has put in place to actually work. If people refuse to speak out against it when it happens, there is nothing government can do about it.
“It goes beyond just having the instruments and the laws; we as a people must criminalise every form of violence against women, girls and children, particularly sexual violence so that we don’t have situations where they will say we will go and settle in the family.
“It is not something that should be settled, it is a crime against the state and it should be attended to as such.”
On her part, Amarachi Chukwu, the Assistant Programme Officer, International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), said the establishment of special courts to handle GBV cases would help to expedite prosecution of cases and ensure survivors got justice, which would serve as deterrent to others.
She added that “the more such cases are delayed, the more traumatised the survivor becomes. But as soon as the survivor gets justice, they get better.” Source: NAN.
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