- Insist State govt, lawmakers do more to protect women, girls
BY UBON EKANEM, CALABAR – Worried by rising cases of sexual and gender-based violence resulting in high number of deaths in Cross River, three Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are demanding that Governor Ben Ayade urgently declares a state of emergency on rape in the State.
The NGOs are: Neighborhood Care-well Foundation; Child Care and Adolescent Protection Initiative; and Gender and Development Action. The trio are working in partnership with Women Voice and Leadership Nigeria (WVL), which is a five-year $9.7 million Project.
Funded by Global Affairs Canada (GAC), Local Women’s Rights Organization (LWROs) and their networks in Nigeria, the project seeks to address issues and challenges of gender inequality through empowerment.
Addressing a media conference at Marina Resort Glass Hall in Calabar, Executive Director of Neighborhood Care-well Foundation (NCF) in Nigeria, Pastor Victoria Emah Emah, who spoke on behalf of the NGOs, said rape incidents were claiming more lives in the state than COVID-19 in the country.
She said the situation demands that urgent measures be taken by the Ayade-led government to address the ugly development, including declaring a state of emergency on rape which has become endemic in Cross River.
Pastor Emah maintained that without a strong state response, incidences of sexual and gender based violence would continue to be on the increase across the State.
The NCF Executive Director described sexual and gender based violence as a shadow pandemic which demands emergency action, stressing that effective and comprehensive response would stop the disturbing fatality rate among women and girls in the state.
Pastor Emah said unfortunately female minors were not spared, noting that in the month of May 2020 alone, a 4-year-old girl was raped by her grand uncle, a 73-year-old retired captain while an 11-year-old was raped by a 38 year old neighbour.
Highlighting their efforts at addressing the ugly development, the clergy said; “On the 11th of June, 2020 Neighborhood Care-well Foundation, with Gender and Development Action; Child Care and Adolescent Protection Initiative, in partnership with Action Aid Nigeria funded by Global Affairs Canada and other Civil Society Organizations in the state, were on the floor of the State House of Assembly to demand for the passage of every legal instrument pending in the house in connection with sexually based Violence.
“Women and girls need more than promises; they need an urgent declaration of a state of Emergency in Cross River”, the NGOs said.
They said it was in support of their advocacy campaign that about 1200 women poured into the streets of Calabar, the Cross River capital in a “peaceful protest march to demand that a state of emergency be declared on sexual and gender based violence in the state.”