The Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill recently rejected by the National Assembly is a contravention of the provisions of the African Human Rights Charter, the Foundation for African Cultural Heritage, FACH, a coalition of civil society groups, said on Sunday.
FACH comprises of Global Health Alliance, Nigerian Life League, Islamic Platform of Nigeria, Good Parenting and Youth Empowerment, Happy Home Foundation, and the Nigerian Association for Women Advancement and others.
The Bill, which was sponsored by Biodun Olujimi (PDP, Ekiti) was rejected by lawmakers recently for lack of merit.
Although the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, promised that the Bill would be represented, FACH’s Regulatory Affairs Director, Nkem Agboti, on Sunday urged the lawmakers not to consider a re-presentation of the bill.
Apart from the bill contravening the provisions of the 1999 Constitution, Mrs. Agboti said in Lagos, it was also incompatible with the language of African Human Rights Charter.
Mrs. Agboti said since most sections of the bill already existed in the country’s Criminal Code, Marriage Act and the Maintenance Act, there was no need for a new law.
“Some of the provisions of that Bill – Sections 4(a), 7(iii) – (vii), 8, 13, 14, 15 and 17 already exist in the country’s Constitution. It shows redundancy of the Bill.
“Instead of spending time deliberating, analysing, passing, signing fresh laws, let us look at the laws we already have; try to improve on their enforcement; create awareness, so that we can take advantage of those existing provisions,” Mrs. Agboti said.
The Director, Doctors Health Initiative, Nkechi Asogwa, also said the bill injected some provisions that were contravened the country’s constitution and moral code.
Mrs. Asogwa said that the provisions promoted abrasive western liberation of women, gay practices, legalisation of abortion and gender stereotyping, adding that all these were contrary to the Nigerian laws, religious, cultural and philosophical convictions of the Nigerian people.
“Those applauding the Bill do not understand. They mistake it for a Bill promoting equality between men and women. They think the Bill is aimed at promoting the economic, political and cultural empowerment of the Nigerian women. But the Bill reveals otherwise. The public, especially women, need to be educated and enlightened on this issue. We need to rise up and ensure that Bill is not passed,” Mrs. Asogwa said.
For the Director, Project for Human Development, Sonnie Ekwowusi, the group had already sent a memorandum to the National Assembly urging the lawmakers to disregard the bill.
“If the Bill must be re-presented, it should be re-titled “Women Empowerment Bill”, while the long title of the Bill that promotes western liberation of women, abortion and homosexuality should be expunged completely from the Bill,” Mr. Ekwowusi said.
Mr. Ekwowusi urged the media to be promoters of the country’s cultural heritage by investigating issues properly and educating the public appropriately.
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