Current laws in Nigeria protecting persons, especially women and girls, from violence are inadequate and discriminatory with stringent standard of proof.
The Violence Against Persons Prohibition Bill is being reintroduced to the National Assembly for the third time, your support is urgently needed to ensure it passes – please support the Bill and spread the word!
Nigeria’s return to democratic governance in 1999 provided the context for renewed vigour around the demand for legal frameworks and mechanisms. This translated into several draft legislations in form of executive and private member Bills being articulated and presented to the National and in some cases State Houses of Assembly. In May 2002, the Legislative Advocacy Coalition on Violence Against Women (LACVAW) with support from the International Human Rights Law Group, now LAWGROUP, articulated and submitted to the National Assembly, a Bill titled the Violence Against Women (Prohibition) Bill, 2003 but the Bill was not passed during that legislative session. In 2008, concerned about the consistent failure to realize a legal framework to addressing the increasing prevalence of violence in Nigeria, and with support from DFID defunct Security, Justice and Growth Programme, the Coalition coordinated by Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA) and International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Nigeria; undertook an audit of Bills submitted to the National Assembly to extract and harmonize those that particularly bear relevance to the issues of violence against women. This was followed by intensive advocacy and campaign activities which were hyped during the 2009 international commemoration of 16 Days activism on Violence Against Women. The campaign has been sustained by the media support it has generated and its endorsement by the citizens of Nigeria, most critically by key actors in the National Assembly, government, the judiciary, leaders of faith based and traditional institutions.
The Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Bill 2011 is a proposed legislation which defines violence, seeks to eliminate violence in private and public life, prohibits all forms of violence including physical, sexual, psychological, domestic, Harmful Traditional Practices (HTP), discrimination against persons and provides all round protection and effective remedies for victims as well as punishment of offenders.
It seeks to eliminate or reduce to a minimum the occurrence of gender based violence in the Nigerian society especially in homes, public spaces or even in conflict situations. It therefore protects the rights of Nigerians against violence especially violence against women. It aims at addressing the gaps in current laws on violence in private and public spaces. Specifically, it is aimed at responding to old and emerging forms of violence, in particular, gender based violence.
The Bill went through a successful public Hearing at the House of Representatives during the 6th National Assembly. But it was not represented via the committee report for 3rd Reading and passage before the closure of the 6th Assembly. The Bill is being reintroduced to the 7th Assembly on the basis of the House Standing Order on outstanding legislations which provides that all legislative Bills that were not passed during the last tenure are to be re-gazetted and passed through its reading before being transferred to the committee stage.
The historic Bill criminalizing violence against individuals, especially women and girls, has been put forth and is going through the legislative process next week in Nigeria. It has failed to pass twice, and needs strong public backing to pass – please help by spreading the word through email and social media or by embedding the banner on your website or blog!
Violence has become an everyday occurrence in Nigeria and is fast eating into the fabric of the society, threatening to destroy the family unit and heighten the insecurity in homes and public spaces. Listen to these stories to better understand the issues addressed by the Bill: