The Joint Statement by International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Nigeria and the Women Advocates Research and Documentation Center (WARDC) on Human Rights Situation of Women and Girls in Nigeria Presented at the 56th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights- April 24th 2015 in Banjul, The Gambia
Good morning Honourable chairperson, distinguished commissioners, state delegates and representatives of civil society Organisations. Thank you for permitting me to read the joint statement by FIDA Nigeria and WARDC.
This statement speaks to three major issues:
- Sexual and reproductive health
- Legal frameworks protecting human rights
- Women in conflict zones
On Sexual and Reproductive Health
We acknowledge the efforts of the Federal Government of Nigeria on the passage of National Health Law and the proposed amendment to the constitution which affirms rights to health and education as justiceable rights. We also acknowledge other state laws prohibiting FGM, domestic violence, early marriage, obnoxious widowhood practices and withdrawal of girls from school for marriage purposes.
However despite all these, Women and Girls continue to face several obstacles impeding their sexual and reproductive health.We therefore call on the Nigerian government to comply with recommendations of the African Commission and other treaty monitoring bodies to intensify efforts to address sexual and reproductive rights challenges, reduce its high maternal mortality rate by allocating adequate resources and improving the health infrastructure, particularly at the primary level.
Furthermore the government should increase access to maternal health services by addressing the barriers that limit access such as user fees and inadequate numbers of skilled health care professionals.
Legal framework protecting human rights of women and girls
Madam Chair person,
We are concerned that there are still extant legal provisions which are inconsistent with the constitution in our laws for example, section 55 of the Penal Code, which allows for a man to beat his wife in so far as it does not cause grievous harm;
WE also note further the apathy and judicial misinterpretation of laws promoting gender inequality which continue to be manifest.
We are also concerned about the lack of enforcement of existing laws and the continued slow implementation of gender laws by various states in Nigeria.
Unfortunately, as we speak the National Assembly has not formally domesticated CEDAW and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, we therefore call on the government to ensure that these two gender equality instruments are incorporated in its national laws as a matter of urgency.
Furthermore we call the government of Nigeria to enact the Prohibition of Violence against Women and Girls bill popularly known as (VAPP Bill) and the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill; that have been before the National Assembly for the past thirteen years.
We also call on the government to review all discriminatory customary and religious laws that continue to impact on the rights of women and girls in Nigeria and ensure their progressive conformity and harmony with local legislation and international treaties, ensuring their implementation and enforcement.
We also recommend that the government of Nigeria should make effort to sensitize judges and magistrates on treaties and laws promoting gender equality and the necessity for their appropriate interpretation and application for the realization of women’s human rights and gender equality.
Furthermore that appropriate machinery and measures should be put in place for accurate data collection, analysis and preservation as well as constant review and update.
Women in conflict zones
Women and girls in the North East Nigeria continue to suffer violence, killings, maiming and abductions and the conflict has resulted in displacement of over 3.3 million people. As you are aware Madam Chairperson, on the 14th of April, over 200 young girls were abducted by the insurgents from their school hostels at the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State. Despite the global cry for the release of these girls, a year later they are still yet to be found.
Madam Chairperson, The government of Nigeria has a responsibility to protect its citizens and to ensure that her borders are protected against insurgency. There are insinuations that the young girls have been married off, sold into slavery or otherwise, no formal information about their where about has been provided till date. We believe that the Government of Nigeria can do more to ensure that the girls are returned alive.
We THEREFORE call on the Government TO DO THE FOLLOWING;
- Integrate Gender perspective into policies and measures aimed at addressing armed conflict situations and their consequences.
- Build women’s capacity to participate in conflict prevention, conflict resolution and peace-building.
- Government should adequately address the causes of conflicts, some of which are inequitable distribution of resources, religious and cultural differences.
- The Government should take active steps to ensure investigation of cases of Violence against Women and bring perpetrators to justice in line with international standards.
- Support compensation to families of victims and ensure protection displaced persons in the various camps in Nigeria.
- Government should strengthen efforts to ensure that peace in the North East and that they “BRING BACK OUR GIRLS NOW AND ALIVE”
Delivered by DR. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi
– See more at: http://www.wardc.org/wardc-and-fida-at-the-56th-ordinary-session-of-the-african-commission-on-human-rights-of-nigerian-women-and-girls/#sthash.xvgXCzlI.dpuf