FG to deploy whistleblowers, mobile courts to fight GBV

THE Federal Ministry of Women’s Affairs has said it would engage whistleblowers and create mobile courts to combat Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in Nigeria.

The ministry also vowed to enforce the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act.

The Minister of Women Affairs Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye disclosed this during a press briefing on Monday, September 25.

She said the efforts were part of the ministry’s new approach to tackling issues around GBV.

The mobile courts will be established in all states, she stated.

“We don’t want advocacy anymore before mobile courts because we’ve been advocating, spending money, and it’s yielding nothing. Something like female genital mutilation was within five states before now. A lot of billions have been spent trying to curb it, but as we speak, it has increased to nine states. So what does that tell you? The method was not working and is still not working,” the minister said.

She said while the ministry would continue to carry out advocacy programmes, local means would be deployed, including the engagement of town criers to disseminate information in native languages so that citizens in rural areas would be more aware of the consequences of their actions.

The ICIR reports that the Federal Government has repeatedly promised to establish specialised courts to hasten the trial of SGBV in Nigeria, but there has not been enough action to match the promises.

Speaking at the briefing, Director of Press and Public Relations Olujimi Oyetomi spoke on other changes being made by the ministry.

“Sanitary towels which we give from time to time to some students in some schools are not sustainable. We have decided to change this to setting up sanitary pad production ventures.

“Gas cylinders being shared with rural women is also not sustainable because the ministry is concerned with who refills the gas stoves for the rural women after the first refill is finished. The gas cylinder is going to be changed to charcoal burners and biogas. This decision is cost-effective as the cost of one gas cylinder buys many charcoal burners and biogas clean stoves,” Oyetomi stated.

Women were also encouraged to form cooperative groups and register with the ministry to help them access production machines with which they could earn a living and contribute to the country’s economic growth.

Kennedy-Ohanenye promised to look into cases of breast-ironing within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and address them.

A report published by The ICIR revealed that pre-teen girls in the FCT are tortured and made to endure breast ironing to make them look unattractive due to the fear of rape and other forms of sexual abuse.

Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via [email protected] or @ije_le on Twitter.

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