COVID-19 AND THE PANDEMIC OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IN IMO STATE

COVID-19 AND THE PANDEMIC OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IN IMO STATE

 

Alliances for Africa is concerned about what is happening behind closed doors as we
shelter at home to protect ourselves from the deadly coronavirus disease. We see a
dangerous trend, another pandemic in itself, an increase in sexual and gender-based
violence against women and girls in Imo state.
The COVID-19 lockdown confinement as mandated by the federal and statement
governments have exacerbated the inequalities of poverty and exclusion whilst given rise
to increasing fear, tension, trauma, stress as women spend more time with their
violent partners whilst young girls can no longer shelter in the confines of a protective
school environment.
Our office has received increasing reports of sexual abuses of women and girls, and we
do know that the Ministry of Gender and Vulnerable Group Affairs have been inundated
with requests for help from treating reports of sexual abuses and domestic violence. In
addition, the National Human Rights Commission, the International Federation of
Female Lawyers (FIDA) in Imo state, women’s rights organizations, and civil society
organizations have all experienced an increased number of reports of sexual and gender
based violence during the current lockdown.
In the last month, hundreds of women and girls across the 27 local governments in
Imo state has been subjected to sexual or physical violence from an intimate partner.
Sadly, the culture of silence, a norm in the southeast, makes reporting even harder and
fuels impunity for the perpetrators. Sadly, the law does not hold women on the right
hand! There is no law in Imo state that specifically protects women and girls from
sexual and gender-based violence. We are yet to pass the Violence Against Persons
Prohibition (VAPP) Act into law in Imo state. We are still in the period of uncertainty,

and we recognize that if this pandemic continues, the number of cases will keep
growing with several implications for the health and well-being of women and girls.
We are deeply concerned about the growing reports of sexual and physical violence as
it relates to women and girls in Imo state. We are even more worried about the fact
that Imo state currently does not have a shelter, safe space or a sexual assault referral
centre where survivors can get help as the situation escalates in intensity. COVID-19
has tested us all in more ways than can be expected. Women and girls need all the
support and psychosocial services the state can provide at these most critical times. We
call on the government of Imo state to prioritize care and support for women and girls,
and more specifically, to give attention to the following needs;

  • To mobilize the police and justice system in Imo state to give high priority to
    the incidence of violence against women and girls;
  • To ensure zero impunity for perpetrators;
  • To fund the provision of shelters ;
  • To fund the establishment of a sexual assault referral centre SARC) in Imo state;
  • To include prevention of violence and response to a key component of the Imo
    state plan to address COVID-19;

 

 

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