Friday, November 25, 2011

Press Statement on the occasion of the "16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence"

BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights (BAOBAB)
On the occasion of the
“16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence”
Lagos, Nigeria, November 25 2011
Press Statement

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press,

BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights (BAOBAB) happily welcome you to this Media conversation happening on the first day of the “16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence,” “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let's Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women’.”

The 25th November every year marks the beginning of the “16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence” which is an international campaign that started in 1991 dedicated to advocate against all forms of Gender Based Violence. The 16 Days runs from November 25, (International Day against Violence against Women) to December 10, (International Human Rights Day) to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasise that such violence is a violation of human rights. This 16-day period also highlights other significant dates including December 1, which is World AIDS Day, and December 6, which marks the Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre in 1989, when 14 women students were massacred by a lone gun-man opposed to the affirmative action policies promoted by feminists at the University of Montreal.

Since the “16 days…” campaign started, this period has been utilized by various women’s groups to call for the elimination of violence against women by raising awareness about gender based violence as a human rights issue at the local, national, regional and international levels; strengthening local work around violence against women; establishing a clear link between local and international work to end violence against women; providing a forum in which organisers can develop and share effective strategies; demonstrating the solidarity of women around the world organising against violence against women and creating tools to ask governments to implement promises made to eliminate violence against women.

Over the years, gender based violence has been a cause for concern in Nigeria and the world at large. This is mainly due to the very patriarchal nature of the society and obnoxious cultural beliefs that subjugate women and lead to their systemic discrimination in private and public spheres. The need for strategic campaigns and interventions has become even more crucial with recent reports of the prevalence of rape and assault cases on women and young girls in the country. This rise in the number of cases is a very worrisome development as BAOBAB has also continued to receive more reports of violence against women at its offices and via email and telephone calls. Two of such cases of violence are the alleged infamous gang rape in August 2011 of a young woman by 5 men suspected to be students of Abia State University, as well as the rape of female students of St Anne’s college Ibadan, Oyo state. There was also the cold murder of a female banker allegedly by her husband, amongst others.

The theme for this year’s campaign is ‘From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let's Challenge Militarism and End Violence against Women’. BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights is today joining other partners around the world to mark the period with a series of activities which include: a Gender and leadership training for young boys and girls between the ages of 13 -17 years; solidarity street campaign by a network of Men and Boys against Violence against Women (MABVAW); an in-house debate by the BAOBAB team on “Violence Against Women and Globalization, ”as well as various social advocacy activities by members of our community based volunteer outreach teams in 15 states of the country.

BAOBAB is using this opportunity to call on the government of Nigeria to:

1. Expedite the passage of the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill into Law;

2. Expedite the reintroduction, adoption and passage of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Bill into Law;

3. Establish support mechanisms including one-stop centers for victims of SGBV and formal shelters in collaboration with women focused NGOs;

4. Strengthen existing laws and frameworks to protect women from FGM and other harmful practices

5. Increase involvement of women in peace building processes and strengthen CSO collaboration for sustained engagement in conflict prevention and peace building.

6. Improve the collection of disaggregated data and maintenance of statistics on SGBV.

7. Ensure efficient investigation and prosecution of SGBV cases.

Distinguished friends of the Press and fellow agents of social transformation, once again we are happy that you have honoured this invitation to participate in the conversations of the next few hours and some of the activities with us, and we hope that this will translate to further collaboration towards eliminating all forms of gender based violence and consequently promote human development. Remember, if it is not good for your mother, daughter or sister, then it is not good for any woman! Let’s stop violence against Women now!

Thank You all

Chibogu Obinwa

Ag. Executive Director

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