Since 2001, the Legislative Advocacy Coalition on Violence Against Women (LACVAW) has worked to pass a comprehensive legislative bill in Nigeria which would criminalize sexual and physical acts of violence against girls and women. Though the bill has been supported by LACVAW, a network of over 70 civil society groups, religious organizations, international human right groups and other stakeholders working on women’s rights (including UN Women, UNFPA and UNICEF), it has repeatedly failed to pass through the National Assembly.
Unfortunately, this bill is incredibly importrant. One in five Nigerian women has experienced some form of physical violence, and up to a third of women report having been subjected to any violence, including battering, verbal abuse, marital rape, or harassment at home.
This year, some of the language of the bill was reintroduced, and streamlined into a Violence Against Persons bill, which criminalizes violence against all individuals, especially girls and women. The bill defines violence in both public and private life, and prohibits all forms of violence, including physical, sexual, psychological, domestic, harmful traditional practices (HTPs), and discrimination against persons, and provides protection and solutions for victims, and punishments for offenders. Advocates hope that the “Violence Against Persons” bill, named as such to be less controversial than a bill targeting only girls and women, will generate new support.
In order for the bill to pass, the backing of 120 legislators is required. Currently, there are only five legislators supporting the bill. LACVAW and WRAPA need the strong support of the public, in Nigeria and globally, to advocate on behalf of this bill.
To date, the campaign to pass this bill has not had substantial media support. To raise international awareness of the issue of violence against women in Nigeria, LACVAW created a campaign website with information about the bill and how to spread awareness, recorded stories from victims of violence, and information on partners. LACVAW will need substantial support from the international community to garner more legislative support to pass the bill.
To learn more about the bill, to add your name to the supporters, and to help raise awareness, please visit www.nigeriacountdown.com.