Wife of Abia State Governor calls for more foccused and result oriented action to stop Gender based violence


Wife of the Governor of Abia State and President of Vicar Hope Foundation, Nkechi Ikpeazu has condemned the current spate of sexual violence, child sexual abuse occurring in the various parts of the country, describing them as inhuman and barbaric.

Speaking to Newsmen in Umuahia, Mrs. Ikpeazu expressed concerns about the deterioration of moral values in some quarters and that, on a daily basis, women and girls around the world are still experiencing harassment and violence of all forms and types.

In her own words ,“I call on Nigerians to begin to take greater actions as individuals and groups, it’s not enough to tweet, Facebook, and share pictures on Instagram. We need to identify the foundation of these problems and start solutions from there. There is the need to strengthen the family circle and moral background of people; there is the need for our country and government to create a broad-based policy that offer greater access to psychological care and counseling; the law enforcement and the justice system need to be streamlined for speedy investigation and trial of cases. Religious and the traditional institutions need to get involved because some of this is happening under their noses. There are known cases of identifiable paedophiles, and child rapist in our communities, and these people should be labeled and extra care taken around them. The first line of defense for rapists and child abusers are the parents of potential victims. They need to watch out for danger signals and do more to protect their children.”

Mrs. Ikpeazu said the violence and the raping are exacerbated because victims and their families are reluctant to cooperate with law enforcement and the justice system. This makes it difficult to have closure in a lot of cases or to punish perpetrators in order to serve as deterrence to others.

“There is a culture of silence in our society that protects perpetrators. Victims are often reluctant to step up and speak out about their sad experiences. They are afraid to confront their abuser. Some families prefer to hide such barbaric acts”.

“As president of Vicar Hope Foundation, I have championed several cases of abuse with the objective of assisting the victim to get Justice. In more than half of the cases, either the family or the adult victim will back out. I had a case in Aba, a woman whose husband had battered many times up to the point that she had miscarriages. She invited Vicar Hope Foundation to intervene and save her from her violent husband. She sent several pictures of the horrendous injuries her husband had inflicted on her. However, when the team from my organization, FIDA and the police arrived to rescue her, she hid away. She later sent an SMS to apologize for what she described as ‘wasting our time’. Her own family members, who had witnessed their sister battered for several years without doing anything about, claimed that they didn’t want their daughter to lose her marriage. But I am not giving up on that case. I will ensure the woman gets help”.

Mrs. Ikpeazu’s Foundation has set up a GBV Rapid Response Desk with a hotline that victims can call to get help. The organization is working with advocates and partners that include the International Federation of Women Lawyers, the National Council of Women Societies, the police and several judges who have added their voice and expertise to providing solutions.

“My foundation and our partners have recorded some successes in broadening institutional response to the challenge. Last year we were able to get the State House of Assembly to pass the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law, which had stagnated before the Assembly for several years before we came on board. Now we have a more robust legal instrument to fight the monster. My Foundation also helped the Police to build some capacity to respond to GBV issues, and then we engaged the state judiciary through the Chief Justice of the State, and he set up more family courts in new jurisdictions. Abia State is getting a brand new Half-Way House courtesy of the State government and TOTAL OIL, so we can have a temporary place to house displaced victims of abuse until their spaces are made safe again. These are some of what we are doing. There are quite a number of cases that are in the courts being driven by FIDA. My foundation is not involved in litigations so I won’t speak on those. We are rather involved in welfare and creating referral pathways for victims to find medical and judicial relief as well as restitution. A lot of times, my Foundation’s Rapid Response Desk is the first port of call for victims”.

“I am grateful to a lot of selfless persons from FIDA, ministry of Women Affairs and the Police who are working with us. It is not a battle for one person or group. Everyone has to be involved”

“Gender-based violence is a phenomenon deeply rooted in gender inequality. Both men and women experience GBV, and there are increasing cases of spousal violence against men but with current statistics, it is obvious, that women and girls remain the major victims. Indeed more and more women are beginning to retaliate on their husbands for abusing them. We are seeing headlines about incidences where genitalia are cut off or hot water is poured on a husband. This is not right, it cannot be justified. I think it’s a reaction from women who do not see any other way out of their situation than to retaliate.”

“Despite all the long years of chanting for gender equality, women and girls are still being seen as objects to be dominated, raped and battered, while girls are still mutilated and married off as children.”

“We should be concerned about the medical and psychological effects these experiences have on the lives of victims. Violence against women and girls often impair their productivity, by reducing their contribution to the social, economic, and political development of their families and communities. It often makes them live beneath their potentials.”