Treasurer of the Nigerian Bar Association Women Forum, Safiya Balarabe has called for more effective measures to tackle domestic violence and sexual assault against women in Nigeria.
“Domestic violence is the most pervasive violations of human rights in the world, one of the least prosecuted crimes, and a great threat to peace and development,” said Balarabe.
“It’s not acceptable. And we must devise new, coordinated measures to protect victims and break the cycle of abuse.
“The government must not only identify the problem, but must actually respond to the problem through legislation in a meaningful way. Concrete steps must be seen to produce high-yielding results because lives are at stake. But the bottom line is this: Nobody in Nigeria should live in fear because they are unsafe in their own home. We need to make sure every victim of domestic violence gets the utmost support; that there are resources available to them in their moment of greatest need. And as a society, we need to ensure that if a victim of abuse reaches out for help, we are there to effectively lend a hand.
“We must help the victims of violence to overcome the financial barriers they often face to restart their normal lives because it is essential for them to achieve financial independence.
‘I commend the concerted effort against domestic abuse by the government, the Nigerian Bar Association, the International Federation of Women Lawyers, the African Women Lawyers Association, and numerous civil societies. But there’s more to do: to ensure that the victims of abuse have access to legal protection, to rescue children trapped in abusive homes — especially when we know the lingering damage and despair that this can cause in a child’s life.
Domestic violence impacts the society. We must step up awareness drive to change people’s mindsets about its very nature and impact on all of us, and to inspire passion for social change in other areas.
“I believe that community engagement is one of the keys to preventing domestic violence. The steps we take today to engage our communities and change cultural norms and institutions are necessary to move us closer to preventing gender-based violence.
“As a people, we must endeavour to call out inappropriate behaviour when we see it, everywhere we see it: at home, work, social media, among others.
“We must all work together to achieve a shared goal of zero tolerance of violence and abuse against women.
“We must do whatever it takes to ensure that perpetrators are investigated, prosecuted and face the full rigours of the law, while reassuring victims they will be treated with dignity and respect by the criminal justice system.
“It’s everyone’s right to feel safe and live without fear of violence. Ending violence is our individual and collective responsibility.” Ms. Balarabe declared.