Chiemeka ADINDU, Calabar
As the upsurge in cases of rape and other related violence against the female gender continues in the country, a Non-Governmental Organization, Neighborhood Care-Well Foundation, has challenged the state governor, Prof. Ben Ayade to declare a state of emergency on sexual and gender based violence in the state.
The group made the call during a press conference in Calabar as part of her activities to mark this year’s democracy day.
They stressed that gender based violence was no more a woman’s issue but a national issue, stating that one in four girls would be sexually assaulted before the age of 18 in Nigeria, considering the current situation.
In her address, facilitator of the team, Pastor Victoria Emah-Emah said, “women and girls need more than promises; they need urgent declaration of a state of emergency in every state in Nigeria, Cross River inclusive.
“We call on the governor of Cross River state, His Excellency Prof. Ben Ayade to declare rape in Cross River a pandemic that is taking more lives than COVID-19 in the state and should be treated with utmost urgency. Hence need to declare a state of emergency on Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV)”.
She revealed that there had been only 65 rape convictions in the country between 1973 and 2019 and added that law enforcement agencies try to settle cases as a family of household matters instead of convicting the culprits.
She further noted that the foundation in collaboration with Gender and Development Action, Child Care Adolescent Protection Initiative in partnership with ActionAid Nigeria funded by Global Affairs Canada as well as other coalition of Civil Society Organizations, CSO, in the state have gone to the floor of the State House of Assembly to demand for the passage of VAPP law and every other legal instruments pending in the House.
On her part, team leader for Gender and Development Action, Mrs. Francisca Effiom said they want action and laws to protect the girl child. She disclosed that they have inaugurated a toll-free line for victims to report and have also put a structure for the rehabilitation of both the victims and culprits. She also demanded for stiffer punishment on perpetrators.