THE Federal Government is set to establish mobile courts to attend to issues relating to sexual harassment and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
The decision will help to tackle violence against women and enhance their participation in governance, the Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy Ohanenye, announced at a media roundtable in Abuja on Thursday, August 31.
The Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, Global Affairs Canada, and ActionAid Nigeria collaborated with Change Managers International Network, the 100 Women Lobby Group leaders, to organise the event.
Ohanenye said implementing a mobile court to try people mutilating female genital and abusing girls, including university lecturers sexually harassing female students was significant in promoting the rights of the female gender in Nigeria.
“I had a conversation with Mr President two nights ago, who granted me permission to address this matter. I also had a meeting with the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) yesterday (Wednesday). However, during our discussion, we faced several obstacles, such as determining the extent of involvement of the state governors,” the minister stated.
According to her, the AGF said they would establish the mobile court when the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Kayode Ariwoola returns from vacation.
“We need a mobile court to facilitate our efforts in sensitising the public about gender-based violence, particularly Female Genital Mutilation as an offence that should not be condoned,” she added.
She told the gathering she would attend the United Nations (UN) General Assembly to discuss the matter.
Ohanenye stated that paid informants would be used, and mobile courts would be used to bring cases against those responsible for FGM and other types of gender-based violence.
The minister argued for a 50/50 gender representation in power, saying that such a fair distribution might result in positive societal reforms.
Also speaking at the event, former Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development Josephine Anenih emphasised the need for women to strategise and overcome societal barriers to their progress in governance.
According to a United Nations Women survey in November 2021, Forty-eight per cent of Nigerian women have been victims of violence since the COVID-19 outbreak.
According to the paper “Measuring the Shadow Pandemic: Violence Against Women During COVID-19,” 45 per cent of women in the research’s participating nations have experienced at least one kind of violence directly or indirectly.
The study covered 13 nations, including Albania, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Nigeria, Paraguay, Thailand, and Ukraine.
Women in Kenya (80 per cent), Morocco (69 per cent), Jordan (49 per cent), and Nigeria (48 per cent) had the highest rates of exposure to violence. Less than 25 per cent of people in Paraguay reported having such encounters.
In a different report, Fatima Waziri-Azi, the director general of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP, stated that more than 30 per cent of girls and women in Nigeria between the ages of 15 and 49 experienced sexual abuse.
Waziri-Azi disclosed in October 2021 at the commissioning of the Benue State Zonal Command office of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Makurdi for survivors of Gender Based Violence (GBV.)
The Director General thanked UNFPA for its intervention and noted that, according to available statistics, “43 per cent of women marry before the age of 18; 30 per cent of girls and women between the ages of 15 and 49 are reported to experience sexual abuse,” she said at the event, where the Benue Zonal Commander Gloria Bai represented her.