Group, Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has challenged Ebonyi State Government to make adequate budgetary provisions on violence and Harmful practices against women and girls in the State so that the ugly trend will be reduced.
The Non-Governmental Organizations, CSJ made this known on Monday during a one-day review meeting on Budgets of Ebonyi States and the FCT with respect to Sexual and Gender-based Violence in Abakaliki, between 2016-2019.
The group said the budgetary provisions made against sexual gender based violence in Ebonyi State are not usually executed and called for an end to it, so that gender based violence will be reduced or eliminated totally in the State.
The validation meeting organized with support from the European Union-United Nations Spotlight Initiative program attracted media organizations CSOs and women activist in attendance.
CSJ Lead Director, Eze Onyekpere expressed optimism that with more sensitization, more policy base analysis, sexual gender based violence will start reducing in the nearest future especially when the survivors begin to claim their rights and make it impossible for the perpetrators to think twice before embarking on the acts that occur in the society.
Mr. Eze further call for more budgetary provisions for projects that would help eliminate sexual gender based violence, violence against women and girls and harmful practices such as FGM in the state.
He said, “This gathering is called to validate the study we have done on budgeting for reduction of violence against women, reduction of harmful traditional practices and reduction sexual and gender based violence as well as promoting the enjoyment of sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls.”
“We are trying to see the resources the state government put behind the laws against gender based violence, to be able to implement them because we know that laws and policies and plans are as good as the resources being dedicated to implement them. So, we are looking at what has been the budget? How much of that budget has been released? If it has been released, how much of it has been utilized and whether there have been value for money and the impact of the state government investment”, he said.
The Executive Director Neighbourhood Initiative for Women Advancement (NIWA), Nancy Oko-Onya in her presentation said the review will validate the data collected on the state on sexual reproductive health and rights, how much the State budgets, whether they are budgetary allocations for issues of sexual reproductive health and rights.
Nancy the woman activist decried that sexual violence and other harmful practices against the girl child and women were on the increase in the state despite the Government claim that it has reduced as a result of its policies against the acts.
“The thing is that the law is there, how effective is the law? How many people know that the law exist? How many people have been prosecuted? How many people have been jailed?”, she questioned.
In his submission, a Consultant with Development Strategy Centre, Nigeria, David OnyinyechiAgu in a technical report on review of budgets of five focal states and FCT on Sexual and Gender-based Violence, said early marriage and teenage motherhood among women and girls in the state was one indicator of harmful practices in the state.
“Even for this particular indicator, the most recent data show that the state still posts a high record of more than 16% of the women being married before they turned 18 years of age.
“Similarly, there has been an improvement in the proportion of women and girls in Ebonyi state who had one form of female genital mutilation or the other. However, the improvement does not necessarily stand for total elimination of the problem. This is because up to 5.2% and 53.2% of the girls and women respectively still had one form of genital mutilation or the other as at 2018. These data are very scary considering the fact that these harmful practices are usually associated with the prevalence of women who suffer from Vesico-Vaginal Fistula (VVF).
Senior Special Assistant to Governor Dave Umahi on Sustainable Development Goals, Dr. Ngozi Obichukwu said in a remark, said the people have to bear with the government as the government will attend to it as soon as it has the strength.
She said, “We are just coming out of the recession. So people have to bear with the government. All the budgetary provisions are lean.”