NGO calls for political will against gender based violence

Temitope Mustapha, Abuja

The Nigerian government has been urged to engage more political will in dealing with issues of gender based violence (Domestic violence against women) in Nigeria.

Light Up Africa Initiative, LADI, a Non Governmental Organisation, made this appeal in Abuja during a workshop organised to sensitize other non-governmental organisations on issues of gender based violence and domestic violence cases in Nigeria.

The gender vocal person for the organisation, Mrs Kehinde Macaulay, said the programme was organised to sensitize Nigerians, and other organisations involved in issues related to gender based violence in the country and to know the causes and measures to put in place to minimize or eradicate the scourge.

Mrs Macaulay added that the initiative was also to bring awareness on provisions available for victims of domestic violence in regards to lessons learnt from evident cases of Latin America.

“Our government at all levels are not willing to combat this or rather we say they are not seeing need for this but if the political will is there, if laws are passed and been enacted, it can help combat it. If you can have the people who commit this offence punished it will serve  as a deterrent to others who intend to batter their wives.”

She explained further that the workshop which had participants from over twenty two non-governmental agencies in attendance observed that domestic violence in Nigeria and Africa as a whole is on the high side due to stigmatization.

“Since Nigeria is recognised as the giant of Africa, the onus is on us to pick up this challenge and consciously address this issue of gender based violence. Once we get it right other African countries will follow suit. Ghana is doing a lot on this, the project is not achievable in one day but we believe we can pull our efforts together and make a big difference on violence against women in Nigeria, moreover, we believe we can encourage our government to give more attention to gender based violence.”

Macaulay noted that domestic violence is hardly reported in Nigeria and thereby leading to non availability of real data on cases or issues of violence against women in Nigeria.

“First of all we believe an awareness should be carried out on what exactly domestic violence really is, most women don’t even see battering in marriages as anything odd, in some cases we have sampled people’s opinion they will tell you yes, a man should batter a wife if she’s not doing well, and most of our people believe it is a taboo to be divorced. Then you see most women patching up in marriages and they don’t even know when to move out of a violent marriage,” she stated.

“This is why such awareness like this is on going to let women realise that the first step is to come out of a violent marriage to get help and if possible the couples can still come together if things get better between them,” Macaulay explained.

Speaking on the way forward, the gender vocal person for the Initiative Light Up Africa said there is the need to create more awareness among women adding that women are more vulnerable.

“The way forward is that we all need to create more awareness on this issue, although not only women are victims of domestic violence, men also sometimes are victims; but the women are more vulnerable than the men,” she said.

Macaulay hinted that the first response meeting was achieved through the workshop, she said the meeting unanimously agreed on the need to end gender based violence and have referral points in events of domestic violence against women.

“At this first meeting we shared knowledge on gender based violence, its nature and the forms that exist.”

She added that a coalition of non governmental organisations was formed to pursue gender based violence cases, to mobilise local supports for victims and advocate for policies and laws.