“We Must Unite. Violence Against Women Cannot be Tolerated in any form, in any context, in any circumstances, by any leader or by any government – Ban Ki- Moon
The fulfilment of women’s and girls’ human rights as well as equality, development, and peace continue to be hampered by violence against women, which is a huge impediment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), that promises to “leave no one behind.”
Last year, AfA worked assiduously with her partners and the Imo state committee on Ending Violence against Women and Girls (ISCEVAWG) to advocate for the enactment of the Imo state Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law. The aim was to not only end violence, but geared towards improving access to essential services for survivors in the state. Consequently, the collective action led to the passage of VAPP into law in December 2021.
However, we are extremely concerned to see that, despite this significant accomplishment, its provisions are yet to be put into effect 11 months after it was enacted in the state and implementation process have been very slow.
The lack of political will on the part of the government to provide funding for the establishment of resource centres such as the sexual assault referral centre, a shelter, and the setting up of the violence against Persons Agency, and low awareness, is one of the major causes of the slow implementation being observed.
Additionally, the low awareness has led to poor responsibility ownership and localization of the law by crucial state actors, such as the judiciary, traditional institution, law enforcement agencies and other actors in addition to the general public.
In spite of these gaps that have been identified, we have held a public hearing on the VAPP law with various stakeholders and state actors in support of our goal to end violence against women and girls to assist in widespread sensitization. We have also held strategic advocacies and distributed copies of the VAPP law across local communities in Imo state, in order to encourage the full implementation of the law.
The theme of this year’s 16 days of activism, “UNITE! Activism to End Violence Against Women and Girls,” calls for a concerted effort by state actors, civil society organizations, and citizens to ensure the elimination of all forms of violence through the enforcement of all legal instruments that protect women and girls, as well as to give the law life, by providing all of the necessary requirements for it to function efficiently.
We call on the state government;
- To enforce fully all the provisions enshrined in the VAPP and provide a gender sensitive budget for its smooth running
- To ensure more awareness and localization of the law across communities in the state
- To establish the Imo state Agency for Prohibition of Violence Against Persons and its constituted boards as contained in the VAPP law
- To establish a functional Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) with its comprehensive units as contained in the body of law
It is hoped that once these strategies and mechanisms are implemented, the state will be in position to end all forms of abuse against women in the state.
Executive Director, Alliances for Africa