Plan International Nigeria, an NGO, has called for more legislation that will fast track the prosecution of perpetrators of Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) to serve as deterrent to others.

The Country Director of the organisation, Mr Charles Usie made the call at a roundtable to address workplace harassment on “Taking a Collective Stance against a Silent Epidemic’’ on Thursday in Abuja.

Usie said gender based violence of any forms should not be promoted or condoned; adding that stiffer and prompt prosecution of perpetrators would go a long way to eliminating the trend in the society.

He solicited the support of all stakeholders to expedite action to end the scourged, especially as it affects women and girls in the country.

He said that in spite of the religious nature of Nigerians, cases of violence against women and girls were on the increase.

“Nigeria is a deeply religious society. And if you look at the interpretations of the rule of a male or female, even from both religions, it is very clear that the interpretation and the theology of the biggest religions in Nigeria, propose the man to be superior to the woman.

“Now, by so doing in everyday life, what we see is that the man eventually lords it over the woman. This is the most common excuse we see that the man uses to discipline the woman.

“It is not the responsibility of the man to lord it over the woman the way he deems fit and that is where we see different forms of violence in workplaces, in the homes, so we discourage it and condemn it completely,” he said.

Usie called on stakeholders to join forces at eliminating GBV in the society, saying that stakeholders should not wait for the 16 days of activism to actually promote the issues of GBV.

“For us, promoting GBV is an everyday affair and a lifestyle.

It is how we conduct ourselves in the workplace. It is how we conduct ourselves out of the workplace, in our homes, in our families and all of that will not happen only in 16 days.

“It happens every day of our lives. So for us, we think that yes 16 days of activism, what he does is that it’s a period where we intensify efforts to promote the message.

“But then, we want to see the message now in our everyday lives for the rest of the years, and not only for 16 days, so we don’t encourage men to be of good behaviour for only 16 days,” he said.

He said that his organisation would not relent in its efforts in ensuring daily advocacy as the 16 days of activism advocacy was not adequate to shape the future of women and girls for a better society.

The Deputy Director of Legal, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Mr Nduka Ezenwugo said that workplace harassment had been seen as an epidemic that must be addressed headlong.

Ezenwugo called on women to speak out when harassed at the workplace, saying that the commission had provided a special investigation panel to address the menace.

“At the commission, a total of 231 cases were handled in all geopolitical zones including Abuja, remedies were given and recommendations were made to the appropriate authorities.

“Those that require prosecutions were sent to the Attorney General’s Office for such.

“Apart from that, we’ve upgraded our call centre to an international level, which is a 24 hours affair and it’s manned by gender sensitive attendants.

“People have issues in the office, so people are always encouraged to come forward. We have the capacity, we know what to do, and how to handle such matters to get remedy for the victims,” he said. (NAN)

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