According to local government and civil society organizations that assist survivors of violence,the rate of violence against persons in Kaduna State is alarming. Types of cases include domestic violence, rape and child abuse. Both men and women are victims, as are the elderly and even infants.
Current laws fall short of the rising need for justice. Jail terms for offenders can last just months, returning them to the neighborhoods where they continue to prey on victims. Plus, there is no compensation for survivors, who must live with the physical and emotional scars of violence.
Gender Awareness Trust (GAT) is part of Legislative Advocacy Coalition on Violence against Women. The coalition gained National Assembly and presidential approval for the Violence against Persons Prohibition LAW (VAPP) in 2015. Kaduna now has an opportunity to pass the VAPP. This will send a clear signal that violence is a crime that we will not tolerate in our state.
More than 800 cases of violence occurred in Kaduna State in the first three months of 2018, as reported by the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development. Among those cases include:
157 juvenile cases
147 reports of domestic violence
119 rape cases
116 cases of gender violence
115 child abuse reports
17 sexual abuse cases
Also the Salama Sexual Assault Centre reports 5 cases of sex abuse weekly.
"This is a very serious issue that needs urgent attention," said Dr. Lydia Umar, GAT executive director."Many people view Kaduna State as the heart of the North, but that heart is showing signs of failure when it comes to preventing violence."
The VAPP Bill would cover offences that are not adequately covered by the current penal code such as:
Harmful traditional practices
Emotional, verbal and psychological abuse
Violence by state actors
GAT believes the proposed law, when passed, will help deter perpetrators of violent crimes and encourage more victims to come forward for justice. The bill also calls for psycho-social support to help survivors move forward with their lives.
GAT is working closely with key legislators, traditional leaders, and Muslim and Christian clerics to get the VAPP Bill passed into law in Kaduna State. Five Nigerian states already signed the bill into law. If and when Kaduna joins them, GAT believes the VAPP will go a long way toward stemming violence and restoring citizens' trust in the justice system.