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The Menace of Rape: The #ChurchToo Movement

The Menace of Rape - #ChurchToo

A rape allegation against the Senior Pastor of Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA), Biodun Fatoyinbo, has prompted the nationwide #ChurchToo movement, with more women breaking the chain of silence associated with sexual assault and rape in religious institutions in Nigeria.

Busola Dakolo, the wife of a popular singer, Timi Dakolo and a mother of three, alleged in an interview with YNaija, that she was sexually molested by Biodun Fatoyinbo when she was a minor, in the year 1999. Her story caught the public attention and sparked outrage, which led to protests by a group of Civil Society Organizations and individuals under the auspices of the #ChurchToo Movement and the #IStandWithBusola hashtag, at Fatoyinbo’s church in Abuja and Lagos on Sunday calling for his immediate resignation as the senior pastor of the congregation, and his prosecution.

Biodun Fatoyinbo has since denied the allegation in a press statement on his Instagram page, he said, ‘’I have never in my life raped anybody even as an unbeliever”. He further noted that he will be taking legal actions against Busola Dakolo.

This however, is not the first time Fatoyinbo has been accused of sexual molestation. In 2013, he was accused by Ese Walters, who narrated her unwanted sexual overtures by him, despite being married to his wife of several years. After Busola’s public accusation, several female members of the church have come forward with individual claims of their experience with Fatoyinbo, and this can be linked with the fact that Busola had the courage to speak up about the assault. Due to the protest and the pressure by Nigerians and the Civil Society Organizations, Fatoyinbo announced his decision to take a leave of absence from the pulpit, following the counsel of Christian leaders and spiritual mentors. He added that the decision although saddening, it’s the right thing to do.

WRAPA lauds Nigerians and the Civil Society Organizations who condemned and spoke out against rape culture and sexual assault in religious institutions, and demanded justice for survivors. We hope this trend encourages more women to break the chain of silence around rape and other sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) related crimes.

 

WRAPA Condemns Senator Elisha Abbo’s Act of Violence Against Women (VAW)

WRAPA Condemns Senator Elisha Abbo's act of VAW

 

Violence Against Women (VAW) is a global crisis which knows no geographical boundaries, socio-economic status or culture. It is one of the most widespread violations of human rights and has severe, long-term devastating effects on the lives of women, who are mostly affected by it. Nigerians and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) took to the streets of Abuja and the social media platforms to express their condemnation and zero-tolerance of Violence Against Women, on the 2nd of July, 2019 after a video showing a Nigerian senator, severely assaulting a woman emerged online.

Senator Elisha Cliff Abbo, a newly elected lawmaker, representing Adamawa North Senatorial District, under the political platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), who is also the youngest member of the just inaugurated Senate, was shown in CCTV footage, published by PREMIUM TIMES, assaulting a woman who was trying to pacify his outburst of anger. . Sadly, the assault, which reportedly occurred in an adult toy shop, was perpetrated in the presence of a Nigerian Police Force Officer, who rather than uphold the law and assist the victim as per his sworn obligations, arrested the victim on the order of the senator.

The act of violence against the woman and the abuse of power shown by the senator, led to a widespread protest by Nigerians, Politicians, and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) that include; WRAPA, DSVRT and Amnesty International calling for his arrest, prosecution and his recall. The social media pressure and outcry was implemented on the #SenatorStepDown and #RecallSenatorElishaAbbo hashtags.

Senator Elisha’s condescending and barbaric attitude is totally unacceptable and the Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA) utterly condemns the act as it propagates the ill-treatment of women in Nigeria. We also invalidate the argument of the act being perpetrated before he was sworn-in as a senator, violence against women cannot be swept under the carpet either for a senator, a senator-elect or a normal citizen of the country.

WRAPA, however lauds the institutional response of the Nigerian Police Force, as the IG called for the arrest of Senator Elisha Abbo. We also note that the public outcry has led the Nigerian Senate to setup a committee to investigate the case. Nigerians demand justice and accountability and we hope this demand will be respected, regardless of his status as a senator. We believe that no individual or group is above the law in Nigeria.

As change agents and advocates for the establishment of a zero-tolerance culture to Violence Against Women (VAW), we don’t see how Senator Elisha Abbo can carry out his duties effectively as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who makes needful reforms that improve the socio-economic state of the country and accelerate the establishment of a zero-tolerance culture to Violence against Women (VAW). Consequently, we recommend that such a lawmaker be recalled.

Regardless of the bureaucratic bottle-necks in recalling a sitting senator in Nigeria, Nigerians especially the people from his senatorial district must take the pains to recall him. He is clearly unfit to be a ‘lawmaker’. We also urge people to sign the online petition so that Senator Elisha Abbo can be justly prosecuted for his unruly acts. We must device every means necessary to generate public opinion, outcry and buy-ins to this issue and ensure that this kind of attitude which belittles women and girls be condemned and put to an end in our society.

IWCC Conducts a One-day Capacity Building Workshop for Community Watchdogs on Gender and Accountability

IWCC Capacity Building Workshop for Gender and Accountability Watchdogs

The International Women Communication Centre (IWCC), held a one-day capacity building workshop for community watchdogs on gender and accountability. The workshop which took place on the 19th of June 2019, in Ilorin, Kwara State was implemented on the wings of the Gender & Accountability project, in partnership with the Women’s Rights Advancement & Protection Alternative (WRAPA) and with support from the MacArthur Foundation.

The capacity building workshop for community watchdogs, was aimed at building the capacity of community volunteers, who are women leaders of different associations, to act as community watch dogs on anti-corruption. These women will in turn implement a step-down training for other women in their communities on how to identify, and fight corruption, as well as support efforts at entrenching accountability.

Corruption, a virus which has destroyed the socio-economic fabric of many homes and communities, has also created barriers for women and valuable groups to access basic essential services. Contributing majorly to this narrative, is the mismanagement of resources and the lack of gender accountability component in the governance system. It is against this backdrop that the project seeks to fight against corruption, by setting up and empowering community watch dogs to support the institutionalization of  accountability mechanisms,  to  ensure good  governance in Nigeria.

At the end of the workshop, participants knowledge was improved knowledge on methods of tracking corruption with the gender lens at the community level. Participants also exchanged community knowledge towards the successful implementation of the gender and accountability project in the state.

WRAPA Implements a One-day Review Committee Meeting in Kano State, on the Wings of the “Advancing Women’s Legal Rights Project”, under the Rule of Law and Anti-corruption (RoLAC) Programme

WRAPA review committee meeting, RoLAC Programme - Kano State

The Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA), held a one-day review meeting in Kano State, on the Penal Code. This activity was implemented on the wings of the ‘Advancing Women’s Legal Rights: Strengthening State Accountability and Community Action to Address Gender-Based Violence in Adamawa and Kano States’ project. The project is supported by the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) Programme, which is funded by the European Union and implemented by the British Council in Nigeria. The aim of the RoLAC Programme is to enhance good governance in Nigeria, by contributing to strengthening the rule of law, improving the administration of criminal justice and curbing corruption. The programme is doing this by supporting reform initiatives led by the federal and state criminal justice institutions, anti-corruption agencies, civil society, citizens and the media. RoLAC’s interventions are focused in 5 states – Adamawa, Anambra, Edo, Kano, Lagos and at Federal level.

The meeting was organized to consolidate efforts by the review committee aimed at drafting a revised Penal Code in Kano State. In attendance, were all the members of the review committee which comprises; Ministry of Justice (MoJ), Hisbah Command, Nigeria Police Force (NPF), NHRC, State Ministry of Women Affairs, (SMoWA), Kano Civil Society Forum, Coalition Against Rape and Violence, FOMWAN, CAN, Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), Isa Wali Empowerment Initiative (IWEI), FIDA, Legal Aid Council of Nigeria, Child Protection Network, National Association of People with Disabilities (NAOPWD).

At the end of the meeting, the review committee came up with a draft of the revised Penal Code.

WARDC Holds its Quarterly Review Meeting on Institutionalizing Anticorruption and Accountability

WRADC quarterly review meeting - Gender & Accountability Project

The Women Advocates Research Documentation Centre (WARDC), held its quarterly review meeting on institutionalizing anticorruption and accountability on the 13th of June, 2019. The meeting which took place in Oshogbo, Osun State, was in tandem with the organization’s implementation of the Gender and Accountability Project, which is an intervention necessitated by the absence of female voices in the demand for accountability, and the fight against corruption.

The project is being implemented in partnership with the Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA), with support from MacArthur Foundation.

The meeting was organised with the aim of assessing the effectiveness of programmatic efforts in the state. It also provided an opportunity for both the organization and project stakeholders present at the meeting, which included state anti-corruption agencies such as the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and the Public Complaint Commission (PCC)to analyse project strategies, make programmatic improvements and strengthen their capacities where necessary.

At the end of the review meeting, the organization was able to assess its project implementation performance, strengthen partnership with the anti-corruption agencies, increase awareness of the anti-corruption fight, build capacity, and adopt more effective methods and strategies for the continuous implementation of the Gender and Accountability Project in the state.

WRAPA Conducts Oversight Engagement to CIRRDOC on their Community Dialogue Meeting in Enugu State

CIRDDOC Community Dialogue Session

The Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA), conducted an oversight engagement to the Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre (CIRDDOC), a member organization of the Gender and Accountability Project Cohort, during its Community Dialogue Meeting on the 30th of May, 2019. This activity took place in Ehazuabor Community, Enugu State, and was implemented on the wings of the Gender & Accountability Project.

CIRDDOC held the community dialogue meeting in nine (9) communities of Enugu state, with the aim of sensitizing the participants on their rights to demand for accountability on issues of service delivery from public service providers and the government.

Present at the meeting were thirty-five (35) participants that include; the Community leader (Igwe), cabinet members, religious leaders and other members of the community. The meeting  featured interactive sessions where participants engaged in experience sharing on issues of  corruption, interspersed with sessions on developing possible strategies that can be explored to drive the demand for . for accountability in the community..

The community leader during his address, spoke on the impact of the sensitization component of the Gender & Accountability project, highlighting an experience during one of his visits to the neighbouring community.  He witnessed a very decent level of service delivery in public amenities in the community, as a result of the demand for accountability from women in the community. In a bid to replicate those gains in his own community, he requested that the Gender & Accountability project team implement such sensitization efforts in his own community. In the same vein, this exposure outcome also led him to increase the female members of his cabinet from 4 to 8.

The community dialogue meeting birthed new strategies tailored to the different communities for the improved implementation of the Gender and Accountability project, and in the demand for accountability.

WRAPA Facilitates a One-day Community Dialogue Session in Kano State, on the Wings of the “Advancing Women’s Legal Rights Project”, under the Rule of Law and Anti-corruption (RoLAC) Programme

WRAPA holds community dialogue session in Kano State on RoLAC programme

The Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA), facilitated a one-day community dialogue session with community heads, on the 19th of June, 2019 in Kano state. This activity was implemented on the wings of the ‘Advancing Women’s Legal Rights: Strengthening State Accountability and Community Action to Address Gender-Based Violence in Adamawa and Kano States’ project. The project is supported by the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) Programme, which is funded by the European Union and implemented by the British Council in Nigeria. The aim of the RoLAC Programme is to enhance good governance in Nigeria, by contributing to strengthening the rule of law, improving the administration of criminal justice and curbing corruption. The programme is doing this by supporting reform initiatives led by the federal and state criminal justice institutions, anti-corruption agencies, civil society, citizens and the media. RoLAC’s interventions are focused in 5 states – Adamawa, Anambra, Edo, Kano, Lagos and at Federal level.

The community dialogue session was implemented with the aim of intimating community heads and other influential voices of the society on the aims and objectives of the project, and secure their buy-ins towards the success of the project,.

There were 18 participants in attendance, these participants who were drawn from the different stakeholder sectors including; the traditional institutions, leaders of faith, media, and trade union organizations, unanimously endorsed the project with their buy-ins and committed to support the Penal code review process.

Worthy of noting, was the attendance of the Kano Emirate Council representatives, Hajiya Umma Sanusi, Senior Adviser to the Emirate on Gender and Child Issues and Hajiya Sa’adatu Baba Ahmed, Media Aid to the Kano Emirate Council, who both assured the Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA) of the Emirate’s support to the successful implementation of the project in the State.

WRAPA Holds Project Inception Meeting of the ‘Advancing Women’s Legal Rights: Strengthening State Accountability and Community Action to Address Gender-Based Violence in Adamawa State, under the RoLAC Programme

WRAPA inception meeting in Adamawa State for RoLAC Programme

The Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA), held the inception meeting of the ‘Advancing Women’s Legal Rights: Strengthening State Accountability and Community Action to Address Gender-Based Violence in Adamawa and Kano States’ project, on the 10th of April, 2019in Adamawa state. The project is supported by the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) Programme, which is funded by the European Union and implemented by the British Council in Nigeria. The aim of the RoLAC Programme is to enhance good governance in Nigeria, by contributing to strengthening the rule of law, improving the administration of criminal justice and curbing corruption. The programme is doing this by supporting reform initiatives led by the federal and state criminal justice institutions, anti-corruption agencies, civil society, citizens and the media. RoLAC’s interventions are focused in 5 states – Adamawa, Anambra, Edo, Kano, Lagos and at Federal level.

The purpose of the inception meeting was to; launch the project in Adamawa State, establish project objectives, and, build a strong foundation for the smooth implementation of the project. This meeting also targeted the community influencers, to strengthen the demand and support for the enactment of legislations that respond to the need for the protection of women, girls and all vulnerable persons from discrimination and all forms of gender-based violence.

Present at this meeting were members of the WRAPA/RoLAC project team, and key stakeholders of the project that include; Ministry of Justice, Legal Aid Council, National Human Rights Commission, International Federation of Women Lawyers, Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Christian Association of Nigeria, National Association of Persons with Disabilities, Sexual Assault Referral Centre (Adamawa Hope Centre), Federation of Muslim Women’s Association of Nigeria, Nigerian Police Force and the National Television Authority (NTA).

WRAPA Pays Courtesy Visits to Key Stakeholders in Adamawa State, to Foster Partnerships & Secure Buy-ins to the Implementation of the “Advancing Women’s Legal Rights Project”, under the Rule of Law and Anti-corruption (RoLAC) Programme

WRAPA Courtesy visit to Stakeholders in Adamawa State on the RoLAC Programme

The Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA), conducted courtesy visits on the 17th of June, 2019 to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) Adamawa State, Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MoWA) Adamawa State, National Human Rights (NHR), Adamawa State and the Nigerian Police Force (NPF).

This activity was implemented on the wings of the ‘Advancing Women’s Legal Rights: Strengthening State Accountability and Community Action to Address Gender-Based Violence in Adamawa and Kano States’ project. The project is supported by the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) Programme, which is funded by the European Union and implemented by the British Council in Nigeria. The aim of the RoLAC Programme is to enhance good governance in Nigeria, by contributing to strengthening the rule of law, improving the administration of criminal justice and curbing corruption. The programme is doing this by supporting reform initiatives led by the federal and state criminal justice institutions, anti-corruption agencies, civil society, citizens and the media. RoLAC’s interventions are focused in 5 states – Adamawa, Anambra, Edo, Kano, Lagos and at Federal level.

The courtesy visits, were conducted with an aim to secure the buy-ins of these key stakeholders to the project, as well as to establish the viability of proposed project activities. It was quite successful, with impressive commitments by stakeholders to support the implementation, and ensure sustainability.

African Nations Urged to Enforce Family Laws to Protect Women

Anisa Ari @ SOAWR maputo protocol meeting

Members from 25 African countries, said many nations had enacted progressive family laws in line with the Maputo Protocol, but the laws were not being enforced

 

NAIROBI, July 2 – Women and girls in Africa are still being pushed into forced or early marriages, while those in unhappy unions face discrimination when seeking divorce, campaigners said on Tuesday, urging governments to enforce fairer family laws. The Solidarity for African Women’s Rights (SOAWR) – a coalition of 50 groups – said while most nations had committed to a pan-African pact on women’s rights, states had failed to enforce laws relating to marriage, divorce, child maintenance and inheritance.

The pact, known as the Maputo Protocol, came into force in 2005 and guarantees extensive rights in areas from protection against violence to economic empowerment.

Anisah Ari from the Nigeria-based Women Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative, a SOAWR member, said while African nations had taken steps in other areas such as tackling sexual violence, family laws were largely being ignored.

“While the Maputo Protocol affirms women’s rights to exercise self-determination and bodily autonomy – free from discrimination, coercion and violence – many African girls and women continue to bear the brunt of discriminatory family laws,” Ari told a news conference.

“For instance, despite the fact that women have a right to inherit their husbands’ properties after death, this is not always assured – leading to protracted legal battles.”

The SOAWR members, which come from 25 African countries, said many nations had enacted progressive family laws in line with the Maputo Protocol, but the laws were not being enforced.

Women’s contribution and access to familial property was rarely recognised during marital disputes, and women often faced an uphill struggle when seeking child maintenance, they added.

The legally binding pact, lauded as the most progressive human rights instrument for women and girls in Africa, has been signed and ratified by 42 of the African Union’s 55 member states.

Three countries – Botswana, Morocco and Egypt – have neither signed nor ratified it.

The SOAWR members – which come from countries such as Tunisia, Uganda, South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya – said addressing the protection and rights of women and girls in the family was the integral to the advancement of women.

“Family laws are key as the family unit is where the socialisation of gender roles begins. It is where girls first learn their rights and roles in society,” said Violet Muthiga from Sauti Ya Wanawake, a Kenya-based women’s rights group.

“So if we can intervene at the family level to ensure they are protected and treated fairly, we can change perceptions and curb practices like child marriage and female genital mutilation – all of which happen with the family unit.”

(Reporting by Nita Bhalla @nitabhalla, Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

 

Credits:Nita Bhalla, Thomson Reuters Foundation

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