The Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Tony Ojukwu, has said the commission received 158,517 complaints of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) against women and children in 2021.
Mr Ojukwu, represented by Harry Obe, the commission’s director, women, children and vulnerable groups, said this at an event organised on Monday by ROOST Foundation in collaboration with the NHRC.
The event was tagged, ‘Roundtable on rising and pending cases of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and possible solutions in Nigeria’.
“Out of 913,197 cases received by the commission in 2021 on women and children, 158,517 cases were on SGBV,” the official said.
Efforts of the commission to tackle the menace, according to him, include a formulation of a presidential panel on the investigation of SGBV cases, a declaration of one-week activism in the 36 states of the country, an automated toll free line, and 4-digit short code, amongst other things.
Time to act – Minister
Meanwhile, the minister of women affairs, Pauline Tallen, who spoke at the event, urged Nigerians to join the movement against all forms of violence against women and children.
Mrs Tallen said the problem of gender-based violence has caused a lot of setbacks and destroyed a lot of homes and minds.
“When you are abused or raped, your psychic is affected,” the minister said.
She described the abuse of children as the highest and the most wicked crime that can ever be done to children.
She added that the perpetrators of SGBV cases going scot-free is unacceptable.
She urged everyone to support the fight against SGBV by joining women in prayers, by speaking to their sons and brothers especially those in the positions of power.
“Every Nigerian must join the army against SGBV to condemn all forms of violence against women. Join the army in prayers, by speaking to your sons and brothers especially those in positions of power,” Mrs Tallen said.
The convener of the event, Julie Okah-Donli, said the aim of the event was to appraise efforts, identify grey areas and proffer solutions.
She said the roundtable envisages justice and rehabilitation for victims as well as a deterrence to would-be perpetrators.
She urged all stakeholders to come together and form a task force that will coordinate the statistic and data of the cases of SGBV.
She added that the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) should take the lead in SGBV cases in the Federal Capital Territory.
Other speakers at the event include, the president of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Amina Agbaje; the president, Human Rights Committee of Nigerian Bar Association, Chioma Onyenucheya; and a representative of Network Against Child Trafficking, Abuse and Labour (NACTAL), Imaobong Sanusi.
Mrs Onyenucheya talked about acts that are essential in the pursue of justice for victims of SGBV cases like the VAPP act and Child Rights Act.
She added that every SGBV case is a crime against the state.
“If a perpetrator chooses to settle out of court and the victim accepts, that is a personal choice and does not stop the state from prosecuting,” Mrs Onyenucheya said.