By Lawrence Duya, Abuja.
A cross section of enthusiastic persons have harped on the need to end Gender-Based Violence, GBV, all around the world.
The webinar which was held on the 14 January, 2021, participants identified Gender Based Violence as any harmful act that is perpetrated against a person’s will because of the person’s gender, which includes physical, sexual, mental harms through threat, coercion and deprivation of freedom inflicted in public and private environments.
These acts are replicated in forms such as child marriage, female genital mutilation, human trafficking for sex or slavery, intimate partner violence, physical punishment rape and other exploitation.
According to participants, some of the effects of GBV are: sexually transmitted diseases (STDS), physical injuries, miscarriages, severe psychological conditions and even death.
Participants also stated that one in every three women has experienced Gender-Based Violence in their lifetime; one in five women and girls under the age of 15 has suffered physical or sexual violence by spouse within the past 12 months, base on the data collected from 87 countries; 30% of married / partnered women have experienced Intimate Partner Violence; 7% of women have experienced non-partner sexual violence; each year, about 12 million girls are married before they are 18 years old; and the COVID-19 pandemic escalated GBV/VAWG to a level that about 31 million cases of GBV occurred during an average lockdown of 6 months.
It was also recorded that several advocates, politicians and experts Gender-Based who serve as crusaders for a robust domestic violence and Gender-Based Violence laws often report threats against them and their families, and since they are not generally provided with personal security by the state, they become vulnerable to attacks.
Economic empowerment was also identified as a leading factor in the elimination of GBV / VAWG. But culture, religion and legal limitations tend to make the elimination of the monster more difficult to implement in certain environments.
Most laws on GBV / VAWG tend to favour women and girls, thus preventing several men and boys from reporting cases of GBV / VAWG being perpetrated against them which result in suffering in silence.
Stating challenges, the symposium, also pointed out that there is gross inadequacies of safe houses for victims of GBV, social support from community and religious entities for victims, affordable or free mental health programs and counseling for victims, perpetrators or families and dearth of programmes / opportunities for disseminating GBV /VAWG information to several population in different languages including braille and sign languages and poor / inadequate enforcement of existing laws and treaties against GBV in several countries.
The participants therefore call on and recommended to the United Nations, all countries, governments, diaspora communities, humanitarian organizations, development partners, foundations, philanthropists, donors and end GBV/VAWG stakeholders world over to: declare as ‘war crime’, any Gender-Based Violence and violence against women and girls orchestrated during wars and inter-communal conflicts, thus making it punishable under current international laws on war crimes; instituting free and compulsory health services for all victims of GBV /VAWG in all health facilities while using health insurance to pay for those who shall be treated by private health facilities, especially for refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), migrants, homeless people, persons with disability, older persons and young people / adolescents; increasingly promote measures/initiatives to ensure the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal no. 5 (SDG5) – Achieve Gender Equality and Empower Women and Girls, as being cross-cutting to all the other SDGs in all sectors, at all levels, for every society/ community; support the involvement of men and boys as critical agents/champions for the elimination of GBV/VAWG in their respective societies/environments and beyond; support the signing of the ‘Every Woman Treaty’ as a necessary ‘next step’ in ending VAWG globally; ensure that in order to end Gender-Based Violence by 2030, there is need for ‘clean entertainment’ to ensure that contents allowed in home videos, cartoons, music, films, games and many others, do not depict promotion or acceptance of GBV/VAWG in school curricula at the early stages of children’s education in schools, as part of the global efforts to promote and observe human rights and dignity for all persons; consider programme flexibility to include GBV interventions with current funds and going forward, providing additional resources/funds to respond to the issues of GBV/VAWG monster amongst other things.
Further more, participants restated their commitment and that of their organisations to: strengthening local initiative and structures (rather than creating parallel initiatives) by creating genuine partnership/collaborations that are transparent, engage more in capacity development and training to improve local competence and skills in leadership, advocacy, research, evidence generation, outreaches, communication, social mobilisation, coordination, networking, awareness raising, implementation of interventions and monitoring and evaluation of programs and initiatives in the fight against elimination of GBV; promoting the works of the civil society to eliminate all forms of gender-based violence in all countries and communities by the year 2023 through increased programme/intervention to eliminate GBV/VAWG in/among rural, remote, hard-to-reach, poor urban and resource-constrained settings/populations across the whole world; ending the inglorious culture of silence around GBV/VAWG ,especially on the victims; fully support and adopt the elimination of GBV/VAWG through Legal Reform (minimum standards save lives), training and accountability for professionals (police, judges, medical), service (shelter, medical treatment, livelihoods support), Prevention Education (males and females, adults, teens and children) and Money/Funding (10X increase to $1 per female on earth or 4 billion per year.
Participants at the invent include: Gender-Based Violence (GBV) activists/champions/stakeholders from Bangladesh, Belgium, Burundi, Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, South America, Sudan, Switzerland, Tunisia, Uganda, Untied Kingdom and Zimbabwe with over five hundred (500) activists/enthusiasts from all over the world.