The Nasarawa State House of Assembly on Thursday organised a one-day public hearing on Gender-Based Violence (Prohibition) Bill 2020, to get inputs from critical stakeholders with a view to curbing the menace in the state.
The Speaker of the assembly, Alhaji Ibrahim Balarabe-Abdullahi, while declaring the event open in Lafia, said the bill if passed and signed into law would tackle the rate of gender-based violence in the state.
Balarabe-Abdullahi, who was represented by Alhaji Tanko Tunga, the Majority Leader of the House, thanked the stakeholders for attending the function and assured them that their inputs would be critically analysed and used accordingly.
“Today is a special day for us, special day set aside for women in Nasarawa State.
“What informed the sponsoring of the bill is our desire to see what we can do to stop or reduce the act of gender-based violence to the barest minimum in the state.
“We called you in order to hear your sincere opinions on how to tackle the menace if not by 100 per cent, to reduce it to the barest minimum in the state.
” It is not about rape alone but it is about gender-based violence, as those that are perpetrating the act must be punished to serve as a deterrent to others,” he said.
He restated the continued determination of the House to pass resolutions and bills that would tackle rape and gender-based violence for the overall development of the state.
Earlier, Mohammed Alkali, the Chairman, House Joint Committee on Judiciary and Women Affairs, said that the public hearing would also give the assembly direction in order to ensure the success of the bill.
Alkali also assured of the assembly’s collaboration with the state Ministry of Justice and other stakeholders in ensuring that the bill became a reality.
“We commend the speaker for sponsoring this bill as the bill if finally passed and signed into law would address gender-based violence in the state.
Dr Abdulkarim Kana and Hajiya Halima Jabiru, the State Commissioner for Justice and Women Affairs, in their separate submissions assured of their readiness to support the assembly with inputs in order to ensure the success of the bill.
Kana suggested the setting up of a technical committee to look at related laws for harmonisation so as to tackle the menace.
Dr Zainab Ahmed, the Chairman, Federation of Muslim Women’s Associations of Nigeria (FOMWAN), Dr Nawani Aboki of the Civil Societies of Nigeria, the representative of the Ministry of Education, among other stakeholders, also commended the House for the initiative.
They said that the bill if passed and signed into law would go a long way tackling gender-based violence in the state, stressing the need for stiffer penalties against the perpetrators of the act.
Ene Obi, the Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria (AAN), commended the assembly for initiating the bill.
Obi, who was represented by Adesuwa Iluobe, Executive Assistant to the Country Director, said that the organisation works with people living in poverty and exclusion, to achieve social justice, gender equality and poverty eradication.
“We commend the Nasarawa State House of Assembly for taking steps toward joining other states to have enabling laws for safety of all persons, especially the vulnerable populations,” Obi said.
She highlighted some of AAN’s recommendations to the bill to better tackle the menace of violence against the vulnerable, especially women and children.
“AAN wishes to recommend that gender-based violence should include threats to commit or acts liable to result in physical abuse which includes slapping, beating, arm twisting, stabbing, strangling, burning and kicking.
“Also, considering the harmful traditional practices that are still in existence in some parts of the state, we suggest the inclusion of harmful widowhood practices, early marriage, female genital mutilation, infanticide, honour killing and every other harmful tradition in detail to be explicit in the bill,” the country director said.
In his vote of thanks, Samuel Tsebe, Chairman, House Committee on Women Affairs, thanked the stakeholders for their contributions.
” We assure you that the committee will take your submissions into consideration and act in areas where necessary for the overall development of the state.