By Edith Ike-Eboh
The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) has urged the National Assembly to pass the Gender Equality Bill into law to curb gender-based violence in the country.
Mrs Ngozi Ikenga, Chairperson of FIDA in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), made the plea in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Monday.
“The bill on gender equality should be passed into law. I am appealing to the National Assembly to look at that bill again and pass it into law.
“Women need to be brought into the scheme of things in this country, let the interest of women be covered both in the Constitution and other forms of laws in the country.
“We have been clamouring for this Gender Equality Bill to be passed into law but it always met brick wall, frustration and all of that.
“Women should have their own place both in the constitution and in anything that concerns us in this country, because we are human beings and living in the same country,’’ she said.
Ikenga said that FIDA was happy over the enactment of the Violent Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act, 2015, but regrettable that only the FCT and Anambra had domesticated the law.
She said that FIDA was discussing with other state branches to lobby their state Assemblies to domesticate the Act.
“The VAAP Act covers all areas of violence: domestic violence, sexual violence, rape and all forms of violence.
“We are so happy that they expanded gender issues in the Act. Domestication is paramount.
“If all states in the country domesticate this Act, there will be no hiding place for perpetrators of violence.
“That is why we are lobbying all states to domesticate it,’’ she said.
On issue of rape, Ikenga urged victims including physically challenged, to first report the matter to a government-approved hospital, before going to the police.
According to her, a victim of rape needs to show evidence that she was raped and the police would as carry out their own medical examination and investigation.
She said, “Sometimes, the reports from the Police angle may be compromised.
“You may be delayed and the specimen for evidence has a life span and you need evidence in the case.
“This way, it is better, so that you do not have a situation where they will take the sample and say somebody mistakenly throws it away. You already have one in hand.
“The hospital reports will carry more weight in court. So, there is no harm in going to the hospital first to arm yourselves with results before going to the law enforcement agency.’’ (NAN)