The Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Zainab Maina, yesterday expressed disappointment over inadequate laws to punish perpetrators of gender-based violence.
Maina told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that inappropriate penalties in legislation had been the major challenge in eliminating gender-based violence in the country.
She said the gender and equal opportunities bill before the national assembly could not be effective where cases of violation and discrimination took place in the country.
â€œOne of the basic challenges in eliminating gender based violence is the inadequacy of appropriate penalties to deter perpetrators of this inhuman act.
â€œIt has been observed that there are obstacles in the enforcement of laws, just as procedures make it difficult for women to get relief from existing legal instruments.
â€œPresently, we have the non-domestication of these laws as a challenge, this is totally worrisome,” she said.
The minister explained instances where victims of domestic violence were usually turned back at police stations on grounds that it was a family affair, thereby denying any further opportunities for prosecution.
She said socio-cultural practices and religion still stood as a challenge to the domestication of some laws that had been ratified at the international level by the country.
According to her, efforts need to be geared toward educating Nigerians on the benefit of speaking out on issues of violation.
â€œSince most cases of gender based violence are not reported, it is difficult to actually assess the magnitude of the problem.
â€œThe ministry realised that there is the absence of strong regulations on gender based violence,â€ she noted.
Maina, however, called on every Nigerian to work for the drastic elimination of the sufferings of Nigerian women
She said women and girls continue to suffer violence inside and outside of their homes, often at the hands of trusted intimate partners.
â€œGender-based violence, particularly sexual violence has become a troubling and persistent feature in situations of armed conflict.
â€œStopping violations of womenâ€™s human rights is a moral imperative and we must come together to combat this heinous crime,â€™â€™ she said.
She further emphasised that more work needed to be done in ensuring that millions of women and girls who survived abuse could recover and seek justice.
Maina stated: â€œJoining in the efforts to stop violence is everybodyâ€™s responsibility. Governments, private enterprises, civil society groups, and individualsmust join to make a difference by contributing positively in this crusade too build a better society.â€™â€™
â€œMen and boys must be active in encouraging respect for women and display zero tolerance for violence.â€