NOA partners PAACA to address sexual, gender-based violence 

The National Orientation Agency (NOA)  and the Peering Advocacy and Advancement Centre (PAACA) have entered into a partnership to address the reoccurring incidents of sexual and gender-based violence.

Speaking during a roundtable discussion on Trends, Challenges and Impact of Sexual and Gender-based violence in Nigeria,  the Director General of NOA, Dr Garba Abari said during the lockdown, there were high cases of sexual and gender-based violence in the country.

He said as an institution that is mandated to preserve the value fabric of our nation, the NOA has been troubled about this narrative of the beastly description of some Nigerians.

“Today’s meeting is in continuation of our search for a solution to the age-long problem which appears to have found new expression in our country. Whether old or new, rape or sexual and gender-based violence are evil against humanity which all Nigerians must come together to end.

“Nigerians in our individual roles as parents, teachers, religious leaders, neighbours, security agents, civil society actors and health workers have a duty to perform in finding a way to end this bad behaviour by the worst among us.

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Even victims have a role to play by speaking out through relevant bodies while seeking medical support.

“The disturbing wave of sexual and gender-based violence calls for serious concern and action by both state and non-state actors.

That is why today we are gathered here, not just as government representatives, but also other stakeholders particularly active third sector players to harmonise our strategy for the fight against rape in Nigeria”, he said.

Abari expressed hope that at the end of the engagement, the duo would build synergy to promote behavioural change across all sectors; provide ideas and direction for tackling the issues and intensify the call for the operationalisation of the relevant statutes or legislation in all states of the federation.

In his address, the Executive Director of PAACA, Ezenwa Nwagwu said the meeting became necessary due to the escalation of sexual and gender-based crimes we have witnessed in recent months, especially during the COVID-19 lockdown.

“The rape and gruesome murder of undergraduate female students; the sexual exploitation of underage 12-year-old girls; sexual violation of infants less than one year, are mind-boggling tales that no sane society should treat offhandedly”, he said.

He said as a society, “we are also burdened by the monster of gender-based violence. The Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) once commissioned a study that shows “3 in 10 Nigerian women have experienced physical violence by the age of 15.

“The sad reality is that justice often eludes the victims, especially where ignorant and fear of mockery, stigmatisation or retaliation hinders victims of these crimes from instituting police report and pressing charges”.

But we also recognise that the system, in its current format, has made it difficult for victims to seek justice in cases of sexual violations and gender-based violence.

Nwagwu noted that It is not just apt that this kind of convening is happening, but it is long overdue. He said it is time that all stakeholders fashion out the best strategy to curb this menace and liberate our society from sexual predators and gender-based violence.

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

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