Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), António Guterres, has charged world leaders to launch unified action against Gender Based Violence (GBV) as global levels of the scourge rise.
Guterres made the call yesterday in Abuja while briefing the media at an event to commemorate this year’s 16 days of activism to end violence against women and girls.
Citing growing global statistics of reported incidences of gender-based violence, the UN chief said 243 million women and girls were abused by an intimate partner in the past year.
Represented by the UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, Guterres said: “Year after year, we come together in solidarity to mark the international day for the elimination of violence, which is 25th November. We come together to recognise that violence against women and girls is one of the most pervasive breaches of human rights worldwide.
“What I dream of is the day we will no longer need this campaign. I believe that if all do what we can as friends, family, organisations, governments, religious and community leaders, media, private sector and the entire UN system, we can end violence against women.”
Minister of Women’s Affairs, Pauline Tallen, said patriarchy, gender inequalities, cultural and religious factors had remained the major drivers of GBV in Nigeria.
To break the vicious cycle, she said the 16 days of activism from November 25 to December 5 would centre on strong partnership with stakeholders, especially the media for greater campaign against GBV.
“Globally, it is estimated that one in every three women experiences either physical or sexual partner violence or non-sexual partner violence in their lifetime.
“These figures are mirrored in Nigeria with 30 per cent of women aged 15 to 49 reported to have experienced sexual abuse, exacerbated by insurgency in the north east and harmful practices such as child marriage and female genital mutilation,” Tallen said.
UN Women country representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Comfort Lamptey, stressed the importance of considering services provided to victims of GBV as essential.
She said during the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of women suffered violence during the lockdown in Nigeria, placing a lot of lives at risk, but they were unable to access help because GBV services were not categorized as essential services.