Christian Aid (UK) Nigeria has called on the government at all levels to protect and uphold the rights of women human rights defenders, as well as activists towards preventing and ending Gender-Based Violence.
Mr Temitope Fashola, Country Director, Christian Aid, made the call in a statement in Abuja to commemorate the commencement of the 2022 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls.
Fashola said that every year, the 16 Days of Activism period holds as a reminder of the persistence of the most widespread and pervasive breach of human rights ever, which is violence against women and girls.
He said the past decade has seen the productive efforts of grassroots activists, women’s human rights defenders, and movements move strategies for ending violence against women higher on the political agenda like never before in Nigeria.
The country director said this was evident in the review and passage of laws that protected women in most of the states of the country.
Fashola said: “However, the social, political, and economic impact of some life-changing events such as the COVID-19 pandemic and Nigeria’s October 2020 End-SARS crisis threatens the few gains that have been recorded.
“This is in this struggle as the country witnessed the exposure of deep structural inequalities and heightened occurrences of various forms of violence against women and girls.
“It is especially worrisome when such violence extends to those whom the survivors of violence look up to for support and justice.
“We now see a common trend of women defenders routinely targeted with harassment, hate speech, discrimination, dissemination of personal or intimate information.”
He listed other ills as defamation, other forms of online violence to silence and punish their public participation in social media.
Fashola said, besides the direct psycho-social effect of this on the rights defenders, it also sends a negative message to survivors of violence, as well as upcoming women human rights defenders.
According to him, a shrinking civic space, especially for women and girls, will only take Nigeria back to the era of intense culture of silence; an adversary that held many survivors hostage for too long.
He said that as an organisation committed to promoting Gender and Social Inclusion, Christian Aid would continue to publicly take a position against all forms of violence targeting women and girls.
Fashola added: “We stand in solidarity with all women rights defenders and do our part in resisting the rollback on women’s rights.
“Christian Aid Nigeria joins the global community to call for an end to all forms of gender-based violence.
”It also urges the Nigerian government and all duty bearers to prioritise the protection of women human rights activists who are in the forefront of fighting Gender-Based Violence. ‘’
“We will unite with others to raise awareness on violence against women and girls in local communities and encourage all Nigerians to take a firm stand against violence.’’
According to Fashola, Christian Aid (UK) Nigeria is a faith-based international non-governmental, non-partisan, civil society organisation working in Nigeria.
He said it focuses on Health and Human Development, Humanitarian and Sustainable Livelihood, and Democracy and Good Governance.
Fashola said Christian Aid is also a humanitarian and development organisation working to combat inequalities that promote poverty.