Stakeholders seek full implementation of VAPP Law at GPSDC meeting
By Gabriel Chy Alonta
Women stakeholders representing representing different rights groups have called for full implementation of Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) law in Anambra State.
The stakeholders made the call during a round table discussion organised by Gender Perspective and Social Development Centre (GPSDC) in Awka. They noted that the full implementation of the law is needful for women to take active part in decision making and other political affairs of the state.
They agreed that active participation of women in politics are hindered by both political and sexual violence. They said violence irrespective of type is dangerous to womenfolk, who, according to them, are emotional and known to be agent of peace and stay away from turbulence.
According to them, Women have critical role they play in the social and political affairs of the state, hence, should be given equal opportunity that is devoid of violence and intimidation by their male folks. “Women are known to thrive in different sectors of their career but are being relegated to the background when it comes to political positions.
“Women are naturally afraid of violence. Violence hinders women from politics. It decreases women’s level of participation. They are emotional and are known to be agent of peace and naturally stay away from turbulence.”
They lamented that political participation of women in the state has retrogressed in the past 8 years, pointing out that it is only few parties that had adhered to the inclusion of women in strategic political positions such as the deputy governorship and the allocation of the positions for women.
The women, who also expressed harsh effects of economic violence said it deprives women full participation in the electoral process.They stated that even as financial handicap affects both male and female, it is more pronounced with females as most women are not visibly financially buoyant to compete with their male counterpart who possess financial muscles in political contests.
They, however, urged community leaders to ensure that women are made deputies and nomination/expression of interest forms reduced to be affordable to women.
“If the party can make it compulsory for women to be deputies and as well reduce the purchase of political forms to affordable prices, this will encourage women to participate in politics.
“We don’t want removal of fee for purchasing forms. There should be fee but at an affordable rate. Political parties must give a level playing ground for both male and female.
“Because women see the prices of forms to be on a high side particularly with viable political parties, women are known to look for political non-viable parties to express their political interest knowing fully well they stand the chance of losing with those parties. The 35% affirmative must be ensured and guaranteed for women. Women must insist to have their right. From all the parties in Nigeria, only one-party PDP at the national level has signed to work with the 35% affirmative for women.”
Some of the women who spoke against sexual violence insisted that it is more psychological than physical violence. According to them, survivors of sexual violence tend to be limited and withdrawn. Self esteem dims unless she is counselled and perpetrator punished.
They beckoned on religious leaders, churches and civil societies to join the fight against sexual violence against women by ensuring that perpetrators are punished accordingly in church to prevent a repeat and serve as deterrent to others.
To encourage women participation in politics, the group agreed that civic and voter education programmes focused on women, media engagement, ensuring security, political party code of conduct and information.