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Nasarawa moves for speedy passage of Gender-Based Violence Prohibition Bill

The Nasarawa State House of Assembly (NSHA) held a public hearing on Gender-based violence prohibition bill 2020 and other matters recently, with a view to come up with a workable document that would holistically address issues of sexual violence against children, women and homosexuality in the state.

The bill which was been sponsored by the Speaker of the House, Ibrahim Balarabe-Abdullahi is getting serious attention needed from stakeholders, considering the recent incidences of sexual violence on minors in the state in particular.

Due to the negative effect of gender-based violence on societal development, it was believed that the passage of the bill would help in curbing the rate of violent crimes in the state.

The bill which has scaled through first and second reading at the floor of the house was expected to receive accelerated passage, whereas Governor Abdullahi Sule was said to have been waiting for the enactment in order for him to sign the bill for enforcement.

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The state is working in collaboration with UNFPA, a UN agency working to further gender equality and women’s empowerment and to address the physical and emotional consequences of gender-based violence. The agency offers psychosocial assistance, medical treatment and rape kits to survivors, and promotes the right of all women and girls to live free of violence and abuse.

According to UNFPA, “violence against women and girls is one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world. It knows no social, economic or national boundaries. Worldwide, an estimated one in three women will experience physical or sexual abuse in her lifetime.”

It explains that gender-based violence undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in a culture of silence.

Victims of violence can suffer sexual and reproductive health consequences, including forced and unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, traumatic fistula, sexually transmitted infections including HIV, and even death”.

The disposition of UNFPA further confirmed the situation in Nasarawa state, where on daily basis, the number of sexual violent against children, which is most common in the state is fast becoming alarming, and should nothing be done to address it, such as coming up with a law to prohibit the acts, it would become a serious nightmare in the state.

Aside from the reported cases, Abdulkarim Abubakar Kana the state Attorney General and Commissioner Of Justice, said there are so many cases of sexual violence and indecent assaults that are unreported due to threads from the perpetrators, stigma and bully.

The public hearing which was anchored by the joint house committee on judiciary and women affairs, brought stakeholders across the state who shared their views and expressed their concerns on the issues at stake in the state and by extension in the country.

Some of the Stakeholders at the public hearing included ALGON, Jamatu Nasir Islam, FOMWAN, CAN-women wing, Action Aid, Federation of female lawyers, civil society organization among other groups who submitted their written position against all forms of violence.

Declaring the public hearing open, speaker of the House, Ibrahim Balarabe-Abdullahi, who was represented by the House’s majority leader, Tanko Tunga called for more representation of women in all spheres to engender the right of women appropriately.

He noted, it was devastating that most laws that have been made, are done in the absence of women, whom it was meant for.

The speaker said, it is important to an end to the ungodly and dastardly act being perpetrated against women.

In his submission, the state Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Abdulkarim Abubakar Kana congratulated the speaker and other members of the house for the initiative, which was apt to address this very serious issue that affects all of us.

“I am a father of four girls so you can imagine that my heart is with girls and for each act of violence against women that is reported to my office, I take it more seriously even than the kidnapping cases and for those who unfortunately have to fall into our hand, am sure they are realising they have made the biggest mistake of their life.

“I sincerely believe that there is no offence that is more serious than violence against weaker persons and weaker individuals. And I mean, we have men also who are weaker,” he said.

The state Attorney General said, both the lawmakers and implementers of the laws, “we are expected to do some homework and house cleaning to ensure we do not only guide the executive in the proper implementation of the law and to also guide the house in ensuring that the proper laws are passed at the appropriate time.

“We compared the bill that has been sent to us against the existing laws and proposed law so that there wouldn’t be duplicity and complications or contradictions.

“We studied the penal code law of northern Nigeria, 1959, which is applicable to Nasarawa State. We studied the draft panel code bill, which we have just worked on to overhaul the penal code of Nasarawa State. We studied the child right law of Nasarawa State, 2005.

“We studied the Nasarawa State sexual violence against children, compulsory treatment and care bill, we studied the violence against person prohibition act of Nigeria which was passed in 2015 and handed down to states to domesticate.

“Putting all these together, you will find that they have similar provisions between the act, the state laws and the bills that are in progress.

“So we thought, the best thing for us to do, is to appear before the house to inform them on the work we have done, and the need for us to continue to work together so that at the end of the day, we will come up with a high breed law that meets the need and requirements of the people and the nature of the offence we are trying to address.”

Kana further explained that the bill contains virtually everything we require, citing the provision of rape as one violent act that was contained in all the bills and laws aforementioned and the punishment therein.

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