The drive to domesticate the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPP) in Imo State has been a long struggle that has been fought and won.
Before the adoption of the VAPP legislation as a National Act in 2015, Imo, under the administration of His Excellency, Rochas Okorocha had in 2012 signed the VAPP Bill into law, under the 7th House of the State House of Assembly. However, the law was repealed by the state legislature due to controversies trailing its passage into law. Divergent reactions and uproar from the church and opposition created an impression that the Bill was to induce abortion law into the system.
The crux of the matter that promoted antagonists to kick against the law, according to a sector was the alleged provision for abortion of pregnancies emanating from rape and incest. Due to the public outcry and its attendant implications on his political career, the law was halted.
The bill was later re-introduced into the 9th House after the controversial part of the bill was removed, by the Chairman House Committee on Gender, and Member Representing, Njaba State Constituency, Amb. Uju Onwudiwe in 2019 and was publicly heard, December 7, 2020, despite bottlenecks and resistance. Cross learning program was conducted for a consultant to review provisions of the VAPP bill, using Lagos and Ekiti gender-based violence framework.
Also, Alliances for Africa, (AfA) in partnership with the Imo state Committee on Ending Violence against Women and Girls (ISCEVAWG) and the Ministry of Gender and Vulnerable group, was at the fore, demanding the speedy enactment and enforcement of the VAPP bill in Imo state through advocacies, awareness creation, multi-stakeholder engagements, media sensitizations and briefings and engaged several organizations including, Civil society organizations, Government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies to mobilize support for the adoption and domestication of the VAPP.
As with every legislation, the bill was debated, adopted, amendments made and subsequently passed third reading in the State House of Assembly on the 7th July, 2021 awaiting the governor’s assent, which eventually became a reality on the 15th of December, 2021.