EU, UN Spotlight Initiative To Partner NOA In Elimination of Violence Against Women, Girls In Ebonyi

By Cordelia Agbo, Abakaliki

Spotlight Initiative in collaboration with European Union have streamlined plans to wage war against all forms of violence against women and girls in Ebonyi State.

Speaking during the activity, the State Director NOA Ebonyi State, Dr. Onwo Desmond informed participants that the Spotlight Initiative is a global initiative of the United Nations in partnership with European Union to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls. 

According to him, the Initiative represents an unprecedented global effort to invest in gender equality as a driver for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

The Spotlight Initiative is responding to all forms of violence against women and girls, with a focus on domestic and family violence, sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices, early child marriage, trafficking in human beings both in sexual and economic and labour exploitation. 
Dr. Onwo maintained that there are five (5) UN Agencies working on Spotlight Initiative in Nigeria including UNICEF, UNFPA, UNESCO, UNWOMEN and UNDP.

On her part, Barr. Mrs. Ajanwachukwu of Ebonyi State Ministry of  Justice while speaking on Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) said that violence against women and girls has taken a different dimension in the society. She mentioned common forms of VAWG to include 
Physical Voilence which includes domestic and intimate partner,
Sexual Violence which includes harassment and rape,
Cultural Voilence which includes, Harmful practices like female genital mutilation and forced child marriage,
Socio-economic violence  which involves, lack of opportunities,
Child abandonment and neglect
Emotional violence and discrimination.

She also said that perpetrators of VAWG some times are people who are very close to victim or survivor such as neighbours, Spouse /Husband/ Boyfriend/Girlfriend/Romantic partner, Friends, Classmates/schoolmates, Family members/Relatives (fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts), authority figures (in school, church / mosque / welfare institutions. 
adding that all these  violate the  rights of women which forms complex social, economic and cultural phenomenon.

Adding his voice on  Violence Against Children (VAC), Mr. Igwe Godwin, a Director Child Development of Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Ebonyi State stated that VAC includes all forms of physical or mental violence, injury & abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse.

He mentioned types of VAC to include
Physical abuse that can take place when a child is hurt or injured by a child or an adult these includes hitting, kicking, punching, giving a child harmful drugs or alcohol, and other ways of inflicting pain or injury, such as FGM. 
Emotional abuse takes effect  when adults deny children love or affection, or constantly threaten or humiliate them through  punishments and ignoring  of a child.
Neglect: is when a child's basic need for love, food, warmth, safety, education and medical attention is not met by parents or guardian. 
Sexual abuse: is when a child is abused sexually by an adult or young person. Sexual abuse can include kissing, touching the child's genitals or breasts, sexual intercourse and encouraging a child to look at pornographic magazines or videos.

Mr. Igwe said VAC occurs in homes, families, schools, communities, and other places where children should feel safe. 

He advised religious and other participants to always take  action concerning any form of Voilence against child  whether undertaken by an individual, public or private body, institutions or service, court of law, or administrative or legislative authority, the best interest of the child shall be the primary consideration.

The CAN Chairman from Ohaozara LGA Rev. Innocent Ajah enjoined the clergy and other religious leaders that participated in the activity to stepdown the message to the members of their congregation. 

The participants include leaders of African Traditional Religion, Muslim leader, Clergy, men, women and youth executives of some selected religious organization in Ohaozara LGA.

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