Prof. Joy Ezeilo, Founding Director of Women’s Aid Collective (WACOL) has said that the poor implementation of extant laws was stalling the fight against Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in Nigeria.
Ezeilo said this at training for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) organised by WACOL in collaboration with the United Nations (UN) Women, under the Spotlight Initiative Project in Calabar.
Speaking to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sideline of the programme, the professor said the initiative focuses on law reforms that would provide adequate protection for women.
According to her, at the moment, the Nigerian laws are inadequate to deal with the issues concerning violence against women thereby causing high level impunity.
“The fact that perpetrators of violence against women can get away with their crimes means others will see no consequences and so continue to abuse women and girls.
“We are seeking effective implementation of extant laws, law reforms to take care of where there are gaps and where there are no laws and the implementation of international laws, treatise that Nigeria has ratified.
“Nigeria has ratified a number of treaties that protect women from all sorts of violence but the problem has always been effective implementation.
“So, CSOs need to take the mantle of leadership by holding government at all levels accountable.
“These are the kind of skills we are given to demystify the legislative process so that they will be able to engage with the legislators,” she said.
Similarly one of the resource persons, Dr Sam Nwatu, Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Nigeria Nsukka, in his lecture on legislative processes in the nation’s legislature, said legislators should be seen as partners in progress.
Nwatu said CSOs must be acquainted with the knowledge to engage their law makers because it was by doing so that they would be able to see through some of the legislations they had so much yearned for.
The Chairperson, International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Cross River Chapter, Mrs Ann Awah, also one of the participants said the training gives the participants an insight on what to do.
“It is also to ensure that relevant bills are made and women are empowered to push for law reforms,” she said.
Awah added that one of the major challenges of the women and even some CSOs was the lack of awareness of the existing laws and treaties that protect women.
“It is important for all women, especially those in the rural areas to know that there are different laws protecting them and where these laws are inadequate, push for reforms.
“Women need to speak out, whenever violence is perpetrated, there is no shame in coming out to say I have been raped or my daughter has been raped and we should stop blaming the survivors whether they are male or female,” Awah added.
NAN reports that the capacity building training had earlier been conducted in five states in the nation: namely; Lagos, Adamawa, Sokoto, Ebonyi, Federal Capital Territory and Cross River making it six states.