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Child Protection Network (CPN), a gender-based advocacy group, has blamed the rising cases of rape and gender-based violence on gender power inequality and regressive cultural practices.

Mrs. Uju Onyedilefu, Chairperson of CPN in Anambra, said this in Awka on Thursday at the commencement of a 16-day advocacy program aimed at curtailing gender-based violence.

The program is organized by a non-governmental organization, the Rule of Law and Anti Corruption (RoLAC).

The theme of the 16 days of activism is “Change the World: End Violence Against Women Now”.

Onyedilefu explained that the program is to collectively bring to the fore, the pervasiveness of sexual and other forms of gender-based violence in communities.

She said that it also aimed to amplify the voices of women and girls survivors and for their stories to be heard and action taken.

Onyedilefu noted that although Nigerian governments at various levels had committed to ending all forms of violence against women and girls, the scourge remained as hundreds of women and girls are still victims.

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According to her, gender-based violence is rooted in gender-based power inequalities and regressive gender norms; stressing that they must focus on transforming gender relations and social norms.

“Rape and other forms of gender-based violence inflict huge economic, political and social losses to individuals, households, and our state, and continue to be an obstacle to achieving equality, development, peace, as well as the fulfillment of women and girls’ human rights.

“Rape is the extreme manifestation of a continuum of violence against women and girls in Nigeria, thousands of young Anambra girls are trafficked across the Atlantic; subjected to early marriages, children who should otherwise be in school,” she said.

Onyedilefu cited the case of one Chimnoya who was forced to marry at the early age of 14 with all forms of domestic violence.

“There is also the case of Chimaobim who was forced to endure the wickedness of her husband who battered her and defiled her two daughters who were four and two years old.

“And also Maria who gave her 9-year-old girl to her pastor’s wife as a domestic servant only for the pastor to be defiling her while the wife turned the other way.

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“We must empower women educationally, economically, and politically to exercise their rights; preventive measures also require the engagement of families, communities, and community gatekeepers such as traditional and religious leaders,” she said.

Also speaking, Mrs. Josephine Onah, Team Lead of RoLAC in Anambra, said though women and children are dominant victims of gender violence, men and young men were also victims as sodomy is also on the rise.

Onah said Anambra had done well by domesticating the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law and setting up some of the structures for effective implementation of the law.

She called on society to join the fight against gender-based violence by reporting to appropriate authorities once someone’s daughter, sister, wife, or mother is involved.

(NAN)


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