As part of the activities marking this year’s 16 days activism, the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) Rivers State Chapter is calling for the establishment of special courts to address all forms of Violence Against Women and Girls.
This is sequel to the non- effective implementation of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Law and other existing laws in the state.
In a statement signed by the Chairperson Susan Serekara-Nwikhana and the Secretary Ngozi Anosike, the association regretted that the long adjournment of cases has forced survivors to lose confidence in the justice system making some to either discontinue appearance in court or resort to self help by such as committing suicide and homicide.
Affirming that implementation of existing laws requires intentional commitment by government and all stakeholders, Rivers NAWOJ maintains that all hands must be on deck in tackling this menace stressing the need for stakeholders to unite for investment to prevent VAWG.
It chronicled its efforts in addressing VAWG in the state as it has invested time and resources in collaboration with other Civil organizations point out that in Nigeria, specifically in the Niger Delta, weak enforcement and discriminatory social norms continue to hinder the effectiveness of interventions”.
The association which aims to mobilize collective actions to prevent VAWG, empower women, and enhance the economic security and safety of all in the state is also calling on the police and other relevant authorities to as a matter of urgency treat every matter of VAWG with utmost attention.
Rivees NAWOJ among other things further seek assignment of judges and magistrates to try only cases of SGBV and VAWG in the already built courts at the Safe Home,
creation of more special courts around senatorial districts to try only SGBV and VAWG cases.
Others include building of more Safe Spaces around the state, creation of Rivers state SGBV offenders’ register, and ensuring that only trained SGBV officers are allowed to handle and prosecute cases of VAWG and SGBV expressing hope that these actions would help reduce VAWG in the society.
The association regrets that VAWG has persisted despite ongoing efforts by stakeholders, hinting that NAWOJ recorded at least 70 incidents of VAWG between 2015 and 2023.
It further disclosed that rape, witchcraft-related violence, domestic abuse, girl-child molestation, and targeted ritual killings, posing significant threats to human and women’s security with potential socio-economic and political repercussions were reported this year alone.
It is worthy to note that United Nations reports that nearly 1 in 3 women world wide have experienced physical and sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence.