From Esther Akaa, Lafia
Human Rights Organisation, ActionAid Nigeria (AAN) has called for the inclusion of harmful traditional practices in the Gender Based Violence Prohibition Bill, 2020 presented to the Nasarawa State House of Assembly for passage.
Country Director, AAN, Mrs. Ene Obi made the call during a one day public hearing on Gender-Based Violence (Prohibition) Bill, 2020 organised by the Nasarawa State House of Assembly held in Lafia on Thursday.
Mrs Obi who was represented by the organisation’s Board Liaison Advisor, Barr Adesuwa Ehinome Iluobe urged the House to include harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation, harmful widowhood practices, early marriage, infanticide, honour killing and every other harmful tradition in the proposed bill.
According to her, any act attempting to degrade people physically, sexually, psychologically or emotionallyshould be regarded as violence against such persons and should be included in the bill.
” We recognise that many aspects of the bill are strong, and only needs a few adjustments in the foregoing areas:Threats to commit, or acts liable to result in physical abuse, which includes slapping, beating, arm twisting, stabbing, strangling, burning, choking, kicking, threats with an object or weapon, murder and traditional practices which are harmful to health and well-being.
“We therefore propose that the definition be expanded, and examples should include “biting, and pulling of hair”.
“Also, considering harmful traditional practices that are still in existence in some parts of the state, we suggest the inclusion of harmful widowhood practices, early marriage, female genital mutilation, infanticide, honour killing and every other harmful tradition in detail to be explicit.
“Any act which attempts or results in degrading people physically, sexually, psychologically, or emotionally, and while we recognise that there is a definition of sexual violence mentioned in sub section (ii), we believe that including ‘sexually” as highlighted above will make the definition all – encompassing and complete,” she said.
The Country Director commended the leadership of the Assembly for enthroning a legislation that seeks to protect the rights of women, girls and boys , saying when implemented it would address the challenges faced by the vulnerable group in the society.
In their separate contributions, the state Commissioner for Justice, Dr Abdulkarim Kana and that of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Halima Jabiru, assured of their readiness to provide the assembly with relevant inputs in order to produce a hybrid law that would address all the Gender Based Violence in the state.
However, they suggested that a technical committee be set up to look at related laws for harmonisation so as to curb the menace in the society ,while expressing optimism that the bill if passed, would address issues of Gender- Based Violence in the state.
In his remark, the Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon Ibrahim Balarabe-Abdullahi, said the bill if finally passed would tackle all forms of violence committed against the women and children in the society.
Rt Hon Balarabe-Abdullahi, who was represented by the Majority Leader of the House , Hon Tanko Tunga appreciated stakeholders for their contributions and assured that their inputs would be given due consideration.
“What informed the sponsorship of this bill by the Speaker and other members of the House is our desire to see what we can do to stop the act of Gender- Based Violence to the barest minimum in the state.”
“We called you to hear your sincere opinion on how to tackle the menace if not by 100 per cent, but to reduce it to the barest minimum in the state.
“It is not about rape alone but it is about gender-based violence as those that are perpetrating these acts must not go unpunished in order to serve as deterrent to others who may want to do so ,” he said.
Earlier, in his welcome address, the Chairman, Joint Committees on Judiciary and Women Affairs, Barr. Mohammed Ibrahim Alkali,said the public hearing would give the House a sense of direction that would ensure successful passage of the bill.
He sued for synergy between the state ministry of Justice and other stakeholders in ensuring that the bill becomes a reality.
“We are commending the Rt. Hon Speaker for sponsoring this bill as the bill if finally passed and signed into law would address gender-based violence in the state,” he said.