By Bukar Bolori
Hundreds of people on Saturday marched the streets of Abuja to sensitize the public on the dangers of rape.
The march which started from the Old Parade Ground at the centre of the city had marchers that are majorly youth.
The march was organized by the Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF), United Nations and Medicaid to sensitize the public on the dangers of rape.
A statement issued on Saturday by WARIF stated that “The WARIF NO Tolerance March” is a call to action to address sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), noting that 2022 marks the fourth annual WARIF NO Tolerance March which was held on 3rd December 2022 in Abuja, Cape Town, Frankfurt, Lagos, London and New York.
According to the statement: The March coincides with the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence and the International Day for Persons Living with Disabilities.
The statement lamented that sexual and gender-based violence is a human rights violation, with detrimental impacts on
victims, survivors, families, communities, and societies – women living with disabilities and those with or at risk of HIV/AIDS are disproportionately more at risk to SGBV.
The statement added that SGBV encompasses sexual violence, physical violence, emotional and psychological violence, early marriage, femicide,
trafficking, female genital mutilation (FGM), sexual harassment and rape.
According to the statement in Nigeria, 33% of women and girls aged between 15-49 have experienced physical and or sexual abuse in their lifetime, stressing that harmful practices such as child marriage are prevalent in Nigeria, with 43 percent of girls married before the age of 18 while 20% of women age 15-49 have undergone FGM.
WARIF has partnered with the UN and Medicaid to raise awareness of SGBV, encourage people to report instances of violence and show solidarity with survivors of violence as this is especially critical in
the recovery period of the COVID-19 pandemic which saw cases of GBV spike globally.
The statement recalled that during the pandemic, Nigeria experienced a wave of advocacy which ultimately led to the
announcement of a National State of Emergency on Rape and GBV.
Speaking on this unprecedented move the The First Lady of Kebbi State and Founder, Chief Executive Officer of Medicaid, Dr. Zainab Shinkafi Bagudu stated: “The Nigeria Governors’ Wives Forum sprung
into action at the height of the pandemic. We have since seen many States pass the VAPP Act and I am proud to say that Kebbi State is one of those States. We now look to States to ensure full implementation of the VAPP.”
She was joined by Mr. Matthias Schmale, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations who thanked the crowd for making their voices heard and stepping out in solidarity. In his remarks and whilst applauding the achievements in passage of the VAPP, he called for sustained efforts to ensure survivors of violence have access to the services, rights and resources needed to live their lives with dignity.