The United Nations Deputy Secretary General, Mrs. Amina J. Mohammed, believes that the Covid-19 pandemic can be used to accentuate issues of gender-based violence in Nigeria.
Mohammed made this position while speaking at the launch of the National Data Situation Room on Gender-Based Violence in Nigeria.
The United Nations, European Union as well as Nigerian officials were present in the launch to pledge solidarity in helping the nation tackle Gender-based violence which is a recurring issue.
The prevalence of both reported and unreported cases in Nigeria particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic illuminates the need for swift actions.
Amina Mohammed noted that crisis has a way of accelerating the trends already in motion and the United Nations has decided that the Covid-19 crisis is an opportunity to end violence against women.
Mohammed mentioned that the statistics are alarming and one would wonder if the people are just making up the figures. Stressing the authenticity of the data, she said in those records are genuine women, girls and even a three year old facing violence.
She urged that every one should take a step from door to door, ward to ward till violence against women and girls is put to an end.
Based on rising statistics, the push towards the establishment of the national gender-based violence data situation aims to eliminate the scourge by 2030.
Ketil Karlsen, E.U’s Ambassador to Nigeria, notes that this is an alarming trend made even worse by the Covid-19 pandemic and the restrictions that have come together with it, stressing the fact that it is a state of crisis and this is no time for backtracking on gender equality.
Mandivamba Rukuni, Barefoot Foundation Afrika Trust’s director expressing his relief as a result of the evidenced based approach opined that we have passed the stage of trying to justify why women should be empowered and its a matter of how do we ensure that they are taking their rightful place and position in society. Rukuni added that women are contributing greatly to sovereign economic recovery of this country.
The situation room with trained data officers provides a register where perpetrators can be named and shamed.
Speaking to corroborate this, Nigeria’s Minister of Women affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, noted that the shame should be on the perpetrators and not the victim while appealing for more advocacy and getting more men to speak out.
The lack of a situation room to particularly document cases of gender-based violence across the country is one vital gap that women are hoping to close to potentially deconstruct negative adverse stereotypes of women across the country.
On combating gender-based violence and in reacting to the establishment of the National Gender-based violence data center, Mubo Okosun, a women rights activist expressed excitement that the initiative was a welcome development which is a first of its kind.
Reports have shown that there was a spike in the figures of gender-based violence as a result of the coronavirus pandemic during the lock-down era in Nigeria. Experts are of the opinion that the lock-down which saw closure of businesses, loss of jobs, religious activities and even recreation centres stirred a lot of tension which resulted in an increase in rape cases, domestic violence, sexual harassment and other forms of violence against women and girls.
Data shows that before COVID-19, one or three cases are recorded but now it has increased to about 17% due to the situation created by the lock-down.
Meanwhile, advocates and stakeholders both at local and international levels are gearing up for the United Nations system 16 days of activism against gender-based violence activities beginning from the 25th November to December 10th, 2020.
The annual international campaign was started by activists at the inaugural Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991 and continues to be coordinated each year by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership.
The activism campaign is used as a strategy by individuals and organizations around the world to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.
The 2020 Campaign Theme is “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!”.