Women groups in Imo have been advised to synergise efforts and support the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) (VAP) Bill now before the State Assembly.
The Director, National Orientation Agency (NOA), Imo, Mr Vitus Ekeocha, gave the advice on Thursday in Owerri.
He said such support and passage of the bill would help eliminate Gender-Based-Violence (GBV) and other harmful practices against women.
Ekeocha spoke during a programme heralding the April 18 Mothers’ Sunday celebration of St. Paul’s Catholic Chaplaincy, Federal Housing Estate, Trans Egbu, Owerri.
The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) reports that the theme of the programme is “The Role of Women in Eliminating Discrimination and Gender-Based Violence.”
He described the bill as very critical to solving most problems affecting women and said it should not be made to suffer neglect or be swept under the carpet.
The state director also advised women to always report perpetrators of heinous crimes against them for prosecution to serve as deterrent to others.
He said women should also organise workshops and seminars on violence against women, and VAP to enlighten others about the menace and for possible solution.
The Director of Women Affairs, Imo Ministry of Women Affairs, Dr (Mrs) Blessing Azubuike, said that though gender-based violence affected both male and female, girls and women were most vulnerable.
She said that the VAP bill was all encompassing as it protected both male and female and as such should be encouraged to be passed into law.
According to her, of over 180 reported GBV cases, only few affect the male folk while most women do not have the co
urage to report their molestation, but prefer to die in silence.
Azubuike identified the risk factors of gender-based violence to include substance abuse, low level education, conflict and ignorance.
She challenged women to fight against and withstand all forms of violence against them and their children.
Mrs Carol Amadi, the Reource Person and President National Council of Women Society (NCWS), Mbaitoli chapter, described GBV as an unjust treatment of people on grounds of age, sex, disability and race.
She said that people could be directly or indirectly discriminated against and added that harassment and bullying were all forms of discrimination.
Amadi said that women were discriminated against in education, employment, job segregation, marriage, human trafficking and genital mutilation.
The resource person lamented the low number of women in both State and National Assemblies.
“It is better to address or check gender inequality than treating it. People (male and female) should be given equal opportunities, level playing grounds and not discriminated against,” she said.
Mrs Pricilla Eziefula, the Christian Women Organisation (CWO) President in the chaplaincy; and Mrs Ifeoma Benjamin-Igwe, the Programme Coordinator, said Mothers’ Sunday was a day Catholics worldwide set aside to celebrate women.
The women described the programme as an eye opener on the issues of VAP bill and GBV.
They pledged on behalf of the women to carry the message to the grassroots and be more responsible to their role as women. (NAN)