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Support bills protecting widows, women, Mrs Ortom tells Assembly

By Lucy Ackanyon

Wife of Benue State Governor, Dr Eunice Ortom has advocated the support of the Benue State House of Assembly on proposed bills for protection of widowhood and amendment of the chieftaincy law to involve women in traditional leadership of Benue state.

Dr Ortom stated this Wednesday during an advocacy visit to the members of the Benue State House of Assembly that, though the Violence Against People Prohibition (VAPP) Law in force in Benue State provides for protection for all vulnerable in the society, however, it does not address protection of specific demographics including widows thus the need for the bill.

She stated that continuous cry of widows in the state over mal-treatment, arising from harmful cultural practices against them necessitated the call for collective efforts of stakeholders to put in place mechanisms that would eliminate the forceful hardship on them

Speaking further, she mentioned that the proposal for a bill to amend the chieftaincy law was to give women the chance to support the traditional institutional in peace building  associated with the institution.

“Women help to keep peace at the home front,” she stressed, noting that their involvement in traditional leadership will enhance its role of peace keeping.

Responding, Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly, Titus Uba, who acknowledged that widows go through a lot of hardship also validated the importance of involving women in the traditional leadership processes.

Uba promised that the House will speedily work on the bills, as soon as they are presented to the Assembly.

In their contributions, the Majority Leader, Damian Cheme and the Minority Leader, Bem Ngutyo as well as Members representing Ukum and Obi State constituencies, Thomas Mlanga and Peter Onche respectively, acknowledged the relevance of the bills and promised to support them.

Earlier, representative of widows in Benue State, Mrs Perpetual Oche, highlighted various forms of hardship which widows are subjected to, including denial of inheritance right and dehumanising burial practices.

Mrs Oche noted that so many widows were too afraid to speak out, thus the importance of voice for them.

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