RIVERS OBSERVATORY ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS
(AN MWAN RIVERS-NSRP PROJECT)
The United Nations in the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action, BFA, 1995 defines violence against women as “an act of gender-based violence that results in or is likely to result in physical, sexual and psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivations of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life”.
Violence against women and girls has become a public health concern as statistics show globally that one in three women (33%) have experienced one form of violence or the other in their lifetime.
Common forms of violence against women and girls in our environment include physical violence, sexual violence (defilement, rape, sexual harassment), harmful widowhood practices, spouse abandonment, kidnapping, female genital cutting, etc.
Medical women with support from the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme is coordinating an observatory – a repository of information and virtual safe place for survivors and victims of violence against women and girls.
The goal is to reduce the impact of violence against women and girls and increase their participation and influence in peace building. An Observatory Steering Committee (OBSTEC) consisting of representatives of stakeholder Government and Non-Governmental Organizations that respond in one way or the other to issues of violence was trained and inaugurated to report, refer and respond to incidences of violence against women and girls in Rivers State.
- Measure trends in violence against women and girls
- Break the culture of silence and increase reporting level
- Increase public awareness on issue of VAWG
- Facilitate and support opportunities for preventive response
- Coordinate the activities of the Rivers State Observatory in raising awareness and improving reportage of incidences of violence against women and girls.
- Capacity Building/Sensitization meetings to raise awareness on VAWG as well as promote behavioural change and encourage reporting
- Referral of reported incidences to relevant stakeholder members for response
- Coordinate multi-stakeholder collaboration to respond to Violence against Women and Girls in Rivers State
- Media campaigns with support from NSRP Media mentor
Achievements so far include:
- Synergy built between Women in Peace and Security Network (WPSN), Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and the Human Rights Department of the Nigeria Police Force on reporting, documentation and response to cases of VAWGs.
- Sensitization of, and buy in by the National Orientation Agency, National Security and Civil Defence Corps and several media platforms.
- Sensitization of public and private medical personnel.
- Community and market sensitization campaigns.
- Improving reportage and response to VAWG.
Samples of materials used in the project:
BASIC FACTS ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN & CHILDREN
Any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN & CHILDREN (VAWC)?
- VAWC is any act of violence that results in or is likely to result in physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women and children
TYPES / FORMS OF VAWG
- Common situations of violence include:
- Domestic Violence: spousal beating / battering; abandonment; neglect etc
- Sexual violence: Rape; defilement, incest; harassment, exploitation & slavery
- Child Abuse: Hawking; child prostitution, child marriage, trafficking; militancy, maltreatment, school deprivation, child neglect / abandonment
- Harmful Traditional practices: FGC; harmful widowhood practices
- Immediate problems such as shock, fear, anxiety, withdrawal, guilt, self-blame, nervousness, distrust of others and chronic depression
- Homicide or suicide.
- Physical Injuries e.g fractures, head injuries, burns etc.
- Unintended pregnancies, induced abortions, gynaecological problems, and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
- Headaches, back pain, abdominal pain, fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal disorders, limited mobility and poor overall health.
- Smoking, drug and alcohol misuse, and risky sexual behaviours in later life. It is also associated with perpetration of violence (for males) and being a victim of violence (for females).
- Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep difficulties, eating disorders, emotional distress and suicide attempts.
- Children may suffer a range of health problems including physical injuries, behavioural and emotional disturbances. These can also be associated with perpetrating or experiencing violence later in life.
- IPV is associated with higher rates of infant and child mortality and morbidity (e.g. diarrhea disease, malnutrition).
- The social and economic costs of intimate partner and sexual violence are enormous and have ripple effects throughout society.
- Women may suffer isolation, inability to work, loss of wages, lack of participation in regular activities and limited ability to care for themselves and their children.
- Social death from stigmatization
*Women’s Right Are Human Rights!
*Every Woman Has The Following Rights!
*Right to Life: Section 33, 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN). This means as a woman, no one can take your life or kill you.
*Right to dignity of the human person: Section 34 CFRN. This means that no one can subject you to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment e.g harmful widowhood practices, female genital mutilation, rape etc.
*Right to personal liberty: Section 35 CFRN. This means to speak out freely when anything bad is done to you in relation to the meaning of Section 34.
*Right to Private & Family Life: Section 37 CFRN. This means you can enter into a marriage if u desire/freely choose a spouse, if you have attained the prescribed age by law for marriage.
*Right to Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion: Section 38 CFRN. This means no one can compel you to obey or follow a religion contrary to your thought & conscience.
*Right to Freedom of Expression: Section 39 CFRN. This means that you are entitled to your opinions.
*Right to Freedom of Assembly and Association: Section 40 CFRN. This means that no one can stop you from associating with a lawful person or group.
*Right to Freedom of Movement: Section 41 CFRN. This means you may travel or move freely without restrictions.
*Right to Freedom from Discrimination: Section 42 CFRN. This means no one can treat you wrongly or bad because you are a woman.
*Right to Acquire and Own Immovable Property: Section 43 CFRN. This means you can buy a land or immovable property if you desire.
As Women canvass for their rights so also do children have their own rights to protect and parents should not be the ones to deny them of their rights.
*Article 3 of the Convention Concerning the Prohibition & Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour: Has it that the worst form of child labour consists of all forms of slavery or practices similar to that such as sale, debt bondage and serfdom, child trafficking, recruiting children for use in armed conflict, procuring children for prostitution, production of pornographic performance, using children for illicit activities for the production & trafficking of drugs.
*Article 7: Canvasses for their Free Basic Education & vocational training.
*Section 11 of the Child’s Right Act provide “Every child is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person, and accordingly, no child shall be- subjected to Physical, Mental or Emotional injury, Abuse, Neglect or Maltreatment including Sexual Abuse, Torture, In human or degrading treatment or punishment, held in Slavery or Servitude while in the care of a parent, legal guardian, school authority or any other person in authority.
*Section 15 of the Act: Provides for Free, Compulsory and Universal Basic Education for every child by the Govt, parents and guardian up to secondary school. Where the girl child gets pregnant, she is mandated to be returned to school to complete her education after delivery.
*Section 225 of the Criminal Code Act prohibits the removal of an unmarried girl from the custody of her parents or guardian for the purpose of sexually exploiting.
Section 26(1 &2) prohibits the keeping of brothels as well as detention of women or girls in any premises for sexual gratification.
*Universal Declaration of Human Rights has it every child has a right to education.
* Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) 1989 has it that every child has the inherent right to life and States shall ensure to the maximum, child survival and development.
States shall ensure that each child enjoys full rights without discrimination.
The child is entitled to the highest attainable standard of health. Emphasis is placed on preventive measures, health education & reduction of infant mortality.
States shall protect the child from economic exploitation and work that may interfere with education or be harmful to health and well being.
Eliminate abduction and trafficking of children
Education shall be free and compulsory.
States to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, rejection or negligent treatment or exploitation including sexual abuse.
*African Charter on Rights of the Child: Article xxi: Protection Against Harmful Social And Cultural Practices provides that States shall take appropriate measures to eliminate harmful social and cultural practices affecting the welfare, dignity, normal growth and development of the child and in particular: (a) those customs and practices prejudicial to the health or life of the child and (b) those customs and practices discriminatory to the child on the grounds of sex or other status.
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) defines discrimination against women as “any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex that affect women’s enjoyment of political, economic, social, cultural, civic or any other rights, irrespective of marital status, on an equal basis with men”. Article 2 (d & f) refrains public authorities & institutions from engaging in any act or practice of discrimination against women. It provides that all appropriate measures including legislation be taken to modify or abolish existing laws, regulations, customs & practices which constitutes discrimination against women.
ROLES & RESPONSIBILITIES
Everyone has a role to play in the reduction of violence against women and children.
- Individuals & families
- Religious Leaders
- Traditional Leaders
BARRIERS MILITATING AGAINST REDUCTION OF VAWC
- Vulnerability is the degree to which a population, individual or organization is unable to anticipate, cope with, resist and recover from the impacts of disasters, Wars and Conflict
- Poverty – and its common consequences such as malnutrition, homelessness, poor housing and destitution – is a major contributor to vulnerability.
- Culture & tradition
- VAWC is a crime against Humanity
- End violence against Women and Children
- Empower women and girls to reduce our vulnerability
- Promote peace and report any sign or threat of abuse or VAWC
- Stop violence against women and children
- Ignorance of the law is not an excuse when Women and Children are violated
- Educate a woman, you educate a community
- Culture and traditions should protect women and children, not harm them
- Children are our heritage, lets protect them
- Break the culture of silence! Report all cases of abuse to the nearest police station
MANAGEMENT OF SURVIVORS
HELP IS AVAILABLE!
We provide these aids below through our network with FIDA, MSF, WPSN and Ministry of Women Affairs / Ministry of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation
- MEDICAL / PSYCHOLOGICAL SUPPORT
- LEGAL AID
- SHELTER / REHABILITATION
BREAK THE SILENCE! REPORT ALL FORMS OF VIOLENCE!
Call us on any of these help lines