Group advocates full implementation of VAPP Act to address gender based violence

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By Aderogba George

Abuja, Oct. 16, 2020 The Legislative Advocacy Coalition on Violence Against Women (LACVAW), an NGO, has urged
states to effectively adopt and domesticate the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act, enacted since 2015, to address issues of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV).

The Coordinator of LACVAW, Eqy Anazonwu, made the call at the closing session of a two-day town hall meeting on data sensitisation in Kuje Area Council of the FCT in Abuja.

Anazonwu said that the town hall meeting was aimed at data gathering from various agencies and stakeholders from Kuje Area Council on their experiences and how they address issues of SGBV in their communities.

She added that LACVAW, a coalition of over 50 civil society organisations, was currently pushing for the implementation of the act in the FCT and advocating its passage in different states of the federation.

“We have members all over the country; we are working to see that the law is effectively implemented because without proper implementation,
the law is useless.

“We are working to see that the Act is effectively adopted, domesticated and implemented in the states.

“By implementation, I mean we should start using this law in the law courts, not the penal code because the VAPP Act is more comprehensive than the penal code.

“The penal code still has so many loopholes which we believe is not effective because the crimes committed are even higher now than when the penal code was adopted.”

She mentioned that the law addressed issues of rape, gender violence, domestic violence, as well as specified the role of NAPTIP in caring for victims, prosecuting offenders and rehabilitating survivals.

Anazonwu said that culture, religion and stigma had contributed immensely, whereby victims suffered in silence and not able to speak up on their experiences.

She called on parents and caregivers to listen to their children whenever they report issues on SGBV to them, and they should in turn investigate and report to the appropriate authorities to prevent reoccurrence.

Ezinwa Obiajunwa, the Programme Officer, LACVAW, said about 14 to 17 states adopted the VAPP Act, saying there was need to raise more awareness on the provisions of the law across the country.

“The provision of the VAPP Act differ according to societal issues, but the Act extensively dwelt on rape and listed elements of how one can prove that the person has been raped.

“So we hope that such key provisions are sustained in all the versions of the VAPP Act, passed across the country.”

Obiajunwa said that representatives from various agencies at the meeting would be given a response tool pack on SGBV to use while enlightening the public on the menace.

A participant and representative of Women Friendly Initiative, an NGO, Dr Veronica Gabriel, commended the organisers for sensitising stakeholders from Kuje Area Council on SGBV.

She said “I am excited that the NGO is doing this in the six area councils of the FCT, however, the issue of sexual and gender based violence is at the front burner for everyone of us right now.

“The Sexual Offenders Register introduced by NAPTIP is in the right direction to curtail incidences of rape.

“When you begin to shame perpetrators, they will know that there is need to stop, because nobody will want to see his face on the pages of the sexual offenders register.

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