As the world marks this 30th anniversary of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls with 16 days of activism commencing today, the National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity) joins victims, civil rights organisations, governments at all levels, and citizens of every country in beaming the searchlight on what has become the most widespread, persevering and dehumanising human rights violation of all ages.
Violence against women and girls is an unsavoury phenomenon which afflicts females of all ages irrespective of social status or educational attainment. In 2019, the World Bank estimated that 35% of women worldwide have suffered either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual abuse. It further stated that globally, almost 38% of murder cases involving women are carried out by an intimate partner. In addition to this, almost 200 million women and girls are reported to have had to undergo genital mutilation. These are scary statistics whose alarming starkness is worsened by the fact that only 6% of women who have been sexually abused by someone other than their partners have been able to muster the required courage to report it.
These statistics signify worsening devastation for survivors and their families; not to mention the attendant stigmatisation that becomes the perennial lot of the victims. It is an unsustainable situation which justifiably raises the ante on the need for the global community to hearken to the voices of women and girls who are caught in the vicious web, especially the victims who have to contend with multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination. There is an urgent need to hasten the projection of capable women into positions of leadership for them to engage the menfolk in formulating lasting solutions to the menace. Action must involve predictable and flexible funding for women’s rights organizations, who so often act as first responders during crises. It is critical that services for survivors of violence remain open and efficient, with adequate resources and measures provided to support health, social and justice responses.
One tragic fallout of the ravaging Covid-19 pandemic is the revelation of disturbing statistics about an upsurge in all types of violence against women and girls. This sad phenomenon, which has been named The Shadow Pandemic, is a direct consequence of the traumatic toll that the viral pandemic has taken on all areas of human existence. The capacity of health systems across the world has been stretched to unprecedented levels, and socioeconomic disruptions have disproportionately pushed more women and girls into unemployment and poverty, with increased risks of violence against them. Strict lockdown regimes also sadly found victims of abuse suddenly and forcibly trapped in the same shared spaces as their violent abusers for prolonged periods.
The United Nations estimates that nearly 11 million girls run the risk of not returning to school due to the pandemic, thereby exacerbating their unfortunate chances for sexual exploitation and early marriage. Nigeria’s ignoble position as the world’s capital of out-of-school children will only be further entrenched by this unfolding scenario. Apart from the direct effects because of the Covid-19 pandemic, violent crises and their resultant humanitarian impacts around the world have created increasing numbers of sexually/physically vulnerable women and girls in the affected regions.
The National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity), in line with its resolve to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls as a strategic advocacy agenda, has renewed its age-long determination to join hands with all relevant stakeholders in educating the public on salient concerns, as well as mobilising the necessary will and resources to confront the menace directly by implementing the following:
- Promote the importance and benefits of women and girls at state, national and global levels across all our chapters.
- Increase stakeholder and public awareness on the need for more proactive protection measures for women and girls.
- Organize and provide public and media platforms for women and girls to speak out for themselves on issues that affect them directly or indirectly.
- Huge premium will be placed on ensuring that our galvanising energy remains focused and dogged to encourage the collective involvement and investment required to achieve immediate results against:
- Intimate partner violence (battering, psychological abuse, marital rape, femicide)
- Sexual violence and harassment (rape, forced sexual acts, unwanted sexual advances, child grooming and sexual abuse, forced marriage, street harassment, stalking, cyber- harassment)
- Human trafficking (slavery, sexual exploitation)
- Female genital mutilation; and
- Child marriage.
We join the world to commemorate yet another International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls albeit amidst daunting global uncertainties and inequitable odds hugely stacked against women and girls. We are however even more convinced that only a well articulated approach that ensures all hands on deck will begin to mitigate the revolting fate that women and girls all over the world are daily subjected to.