On Tuesday some Civil society groups under the aegis of Alliances for Africa (AfA) and Imo State Committee on Ending Violence against Women and Girls (ISCEVAWG) have implored the state governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma, to urgently create and allocate the 2022 budget towards the full enforcement and implementation of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition, VAPP Act.
The groups urged the state government to also create an active state Gender-Based Violence, GBV, rapid response team that will see to the provision of immediate survivor-centred services.
In a joint statement issued by the AfA Executive Director, Iheoma Obibi, and ISCEVAWG Coordinator, Majorie Ezihe, made available to newsmen in Owerri, the group called on Uzodinma to establish the Violence Against Person’s Agency.
They called on the state government to leverage the existing unutilized state structures to establish a shelter for safeguarding survivors from abusers.
According to the release, “the agency should be led by an active multi-sectoral action committee that will monitor and supervise the full implementation of the provisions of the VAPP, including a Sexual Assault Referral Center (SARC), that will render services to aid the reintegration of survivors into the society.”
Harping on what the VAPP seeks to achieve and its enforcement, the groups said, “the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act, is the widely accepted piece of law that transcends the penal and criminal code in guaranteeing safety for survivors of violence, due to its expansion of the definition of rape and provisions for access to essential services including, legal, medical and psychosocial support.”
They explained that when fully implemented, the VAPP Act will address all forms of violence against women and girls, including sexual violence, physical violence, emotional violence, domestic violence and harmful cultural practices perpetrated by state and non-state actors, and provide full legal protection, adequate remedies and maximum punishment for offenders
While expressing gratitude to Uzodinma, his wife, Chioma Uzodinma; and member representing Njaba State Constituency, and chief sponsor of the bill, Hon. Amb. Uju Onwudiwe, the groups said the drive to domesticate the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPP) in Imo State has been a long struggle that has been fought and won.
“Before the adoption of the VAPP legislation as a National Act in 2015, Imo, under the administration of former governor Rochas Okorocha had in 2012 signed the VAPP Bill into law, under the 7th House of the State House of Assembly,” they stated.
“The Imo state VAPP Act having been reviewed to integrate current trends and patterns of violence as well as provisions for access to essential services for survivors, the timeline for the administration of justice, a regulatory agency and the roles of same, amongst others is currently noted to be the most comprehensive of all in Nigeria.”