The African Legal Think Tank on Women’s Rights ( ALTOWR ) has declared support for the Civil Society Organizations, activists and the Federal Republic of Nigeria to ensure that violence against women and girls is duly and promptly addressed.
In a statement issued on Thursday, ALTOWR expressed concern over the spate of Sexual and Gender Based Violence towards women and children in the country, urging the government to take decisive action to end the menace.
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The statement which reads in parts said, “The African Legal Think Tank on Women’s Rights ( ALTOWR ) is following with tremendous concern the rise of systemic violence towards women and children in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“We condemn the horrendous episodes of rape, domestic violence and abuses, and join in solidarity the coalition of Civil Society Organizations calling for the declaration of a State of Emergency on SGBV in Nigeria”.
It said recent data showed that violence against women and children has pervasively increased during the current novel COVID-19 pandemic, with serious consequences for the victims, the families, the community and the country at large.
“Cognisant that the lockdown has forced victims to remain isolated with their abusers, as data from service providers have reported a drastic increase of cases.
“We wish to duly emphasize that the Pandemic has weakened an already enfeebled system attributed to a pervasive culture of impunity, which is unable to properly address violence against women and children, with devastating consequences towards the pre-existing inequalities and vulnerabilities, further affecting the most vulnerable groups, including women and girls with disabilities in conflict-affected states, refugees and internally displaced.
“The weak system of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is further affected by the societal, cultural and religious response to the cases of violence towards women and children, which often lead to victim-blaming.
“Such attitudes have led to devastating effects in ensuring access to Justice for the victims, further exacerbated by the political discourse” the statement added.
It further stated that survivors of SGBV are often unable to report cases due to the stigma and fear of discrimination.
“We wish to reiterate that the police should not be used in any form or manner as a tool of oppression and power abuse, serving a privileged elite to silence, threaten and intimidate women.
“This repeated high-handedness by the police, instead of thorough investigation further deters survivors of SGBV from reporting their abusers.
“We duly recall to state prosecutors that they are entrusted with representing the State and the public interest before the legal and judicial institutions, and as such they shall ensure that Justice is done for the victims of such horrific crimes”.