BY: VITALIS UGOH, Calabar
Participants at a one day workshop on gender based violence (GBV) have called on Civil Society Organizations, media, and other stakeholders to develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for response to Gender Based Violence (GBV) incidences.
The advice was contained in a 7-point communique Issued at the end of the Media Roundtable to mark 16 Days of Activism on Ending Violence against Women and Girls and Harmful Practice (VAWG/HG), held at the Girl’s Power Initiative, Calabar Cross River state recently.
It also called for the establishment of one stop centres where survivors can access post GBV care such as psychosocial counselling to be championed by the Government and Implementing Partners.
According to the communique, “there is need for synergy between the Department of Public Prosecution and other partners towards litigation of GBV incidences and provision of psychosocial support to address issues of withdrawal of cases”.
It called for the issuance of non-payment medical certificates to survivors of GBV to aid prosecution by hospitals, Funding for GBV programs and response should be prioritized and made deliberate by the government.
The media, the commuige added “should increase reportage of GBV cases and follow up on such cases including those that have been convicted to serve as deterrent as well as to create awareness on GBV , availability of post GBV care services.
The media, it noted, “should synergize with all stakeholders involved in gender based activities to ensure proper reportage of GBV incidences and convictions to ensure deterrence”.
It would be recalled that the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence (GBV), which runs from 25th November-10th December, is an annual international campaign that draws attention to the occurrence of GBV against women and the need to emphasize violence against women as a human rights issue and to rally concerted efforts for the elimination of all forms of GBV wherever it occurs.
The theme for this year’s commemoration is “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!’’, which is advocating for increasing funding for gender programs, fast tracking response and care for survivors of GBV, rolling out GBV prevention strategies as well as improving data collection to aid decision making amongst others.
The media roundtable was held to kick start activities for this year’s event and provide a platform for engagement and discussions with critical stakeholders towards eliminating gender based violence.
Presentations were made on the following, Spotlight Initiative Project Activities on Ending Violence against Women and Girls.Sexual and Gender Based Violence Litigation in Cross River State, Challenges and Way forward.
Role of Cross River State government in ending Violence against women and girls.
Highlight of the event was a signed commitment by the Obong of Calabar to champion the fight for the promotion of gender equitable norms and prevention of Violence against Women and Girls as well as Harmful Practices in Cross River State.
It would be recalled that the Incidences of GBV were on the increase during the COVID 19 lockdown era.
Mainwhile, advocacy has been paid to the Cross River State House of Assembly for the domestication of the Violence against Persons Prohibition Act in Cross River State.Different initiatives are being deployed to prevent occurrence of GBV and providing support for survivors of GBV.
“The new criminal justice law has provisions to provide financial support to survivors of GBV yet there is no political will to implement while survivors of GBV often face challenges in financing litigation against culprits”.
It frowned that family members and survivors often withdraw cases after reporting to law enforcement agencies.
The accusatorial system of prosecution in Nigeria which requires the gathering of concrete evidence poses a challenge in prosecuting cases of SGBV, participants observed
In attendance were the Commissioner for Ministry of Women Affairs, the Head of Office, United Nations Population Fund, Cross River State Sub-office; Director, Public Prosecution, Cross River State Ministry of Justice; representatives from Nigeria Bar Association, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Non-Governmental Organizations and media houses.