Reporter : OBY ARINZE

A cross section of women in Onitsha, the commercial city of Anambra State, has expressed concern over the increasing spate of sexual violence in the society.

The women, who spoke with Radio Nigeria on the backdrop of the 2020 International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence Against Women, identified discrimination, poverty and lack of stringent penalty for offenders, among others as major causes of the increasing wave of violence against women and the girl child.

They, however, canvassed for change of attitude on the side of family members and the society as well as strict enforcement of the various anti-violence laws against women to curb the menace.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, emerging data and reports from those in the frontlines, had shown that all types of violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence have intensified.

The first international day for the elimination of sexual violence against women was celebrated on November 25, 2000 by the United Nations

The day is aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls.

The 2020 theme “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!” focuses on amplifying the call for global action to bridge funding gaps, ensure essential services for surviours of violence during the COVID-19 crisis.

Speaking on the essence of the day, a legal practitioner, Miss Meg Oputa, explained that violence against women is a gross human rights violation, which devastates lives, causes pain, suffering and illness, to the victims.

Although the legal practitioner stressed that punishments for such offenders were determined by the law, she however added that many perpetrators still go unpunished.

She further noted that many victims failed to report cases to authorities for prosecution due to stigmatization or fear of losing their lives following threats by offenders.

Contributing, a lecturer at the Faculty of Education, Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu University Igbariam, Dr. Ify Manafa, described violence against women as social injustice.

She said women should be given more opportunities to education, health and political offices to assert themselves in the society, stating that they had proven to be effective in various positions they found themselves.

For her part, Mrs. Nkem Osanakpo, said the first thing to do should be to create gender equality in all strata of the society as that would put some of the abuses under control.

Also, a woman activist, Mrs. Felly Okolo, said the fight against sexual violence against women was a collective struggle, which should not be left for women alone.

According to her, all hands must be on deck to eliminate the menace because it affected every strata of the society directly or indirectly.

Other respondents called on government at all levels to create enabling environment for women to be at the forefront of the campaign against sexual violence.

Like in previous years, the 2010 International Day would mark the launch of 16 days of activism, which would be concluded on December 10, 2020 being the International Human Rights Day.