By Franca Ofili
The Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen, has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for supporting efforts in ensuring that rape and other forms of violence against women are eliminated in the country.
Tallen gave the commendation during a Virtual Roundtable Conference with traditional and religious leaders on “Eliminating Gender Based Violence and Harmful Traditional Practices Against Women and Girls on Thursday.
The conference was jointly organised by UN Spotlight Agencies under the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative, an ambitious multi-year partnership to eliminate all forms of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) in September 2017.
The EU offered initial seed funding of 500 million Euros, inviting donors and partners to join the Initiative to broaden its reach and scope.
Public participation, ambitious political action that are built on evidence-based policies, as well as increased resources and knowledge generation are all vital to the Initiative.
The minister of women affairs, therefore, said that rape and other forms of violence against women were unacceptable crimes that must be condemned by all.
She added that the high rate of rape cases in the country made her to submit a memo to the Federal Executive Council on June 10, noting that the move had received the full support of the president.
She said “the President has directed the minister of justice to put in place an inter-ministerial gender group made up of Cos and other stakeholders.
“The President also directed the inspector general of police to ensure zero tolerance to rape in the country.”
The minister noted that the support was a great boost to the fight against the menace, saying that the ministry was engaging the police to ensure a stop to the situation.
She commended the Nigerian Governors Forum and the governors’ wives for their support and the declaration of state of emergency on rape.
She stressed that “the National Assembly (NASS) hit a milestone with the passage of the bill to prohibite sexual harassment on students.
“This will bring sanity in our higher institutions of learning and deter lecturers from such evil act.”
Tallen called for the support of religious and tradition leaders as the ministry prepare for an advocacy campaign on Gender Based Violence.
She said “I want to state that we cannot achieve our aim without the full support of the traditional and religious leaders.
“They play critical roles in achieving government policies at the grassroots. We will not pretend; we need you to break this rape and gender violence issues.”
She further called on other leaders and stakeholders to join in the fight against rape and harmful practices against women.
The Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, said that issues of rape and gender violence must be treated seriously because it affects the society.
He said “it is unfortunate that only about 10 states in the country have legal framework that protects the interest of girls and women.”
Represented by Mrs Yomi Onanuga, the speaker said that the alarming rise of rape cases in the past few months called for urgent action.
He said that his office was engaging with state and non-state actors in domesticating the Child Rights Act and follow up action and prosecution as response to gender violence.
He explained that “as government, we need to create awareness among men and boys on injustice to women.
“Our office is developing gender budgeting framework through the annual budget to address gaps to support programmes across various government activities to ensure gender mainstreaming.”
He commended the support of the European Union and the UN mission in Nigeria toward ending violence against women and girls through the Spotlight Initiative.
The Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar III, said that the act of rape was uncivil and must be condemned.
He added that Islam as a religion condemned the act and condemned anyone that maltreats his wife or women.
Represented by the Emir of Arugungu, Sumaila Muhammad, he said that violence against women was shameful and unacceptable.
He assured his support in the fight against rape and all forms of violence against women in the country. (NAN)