The rising incidents of rape, killings and various forms of violence against persons in Nigeria have led to increased advocacy for the speedy passage of Violence Against Persons Prohibition Bill (#VAPPbill) by the National Assembly. I’m so proud to be a leading member #Choice4Life Advocates – a group of young Nigerians who are advocating strongly for the passage of this bill and a reform of abortion laws to allow for informed choices in pregnancy cases arising from violent situations such as rape or incest.
First introduced in National Assembly 12 years ago, VAPP Bill has had a chequered history. Here are some bits you may need to know.
- #VAPPbill was 1st presented to NASS as the Violence Against Women (Prohibition) Bill on May 28, 2002.
- It was sponsored by the then Chair of the House Committee on Women Affairs, Hon. Florence Aya
- #VAPPbill was published in the Legislative Gazette in May 2003, at the tail end of the tenure of the Legislature
- In 2003, legislative process on #VAPPbill was commenced afresh.
- In commemoration of the 2004 International Women’s Day, a Legislative Consultation on the Bill was held on #VAPPbill.
- The sponsorship base of #VAPPbill was also expanded with the support of the then Speaker, Hon. Aminu Bello-Masari and over 45 others
- In May 2005, Technical Committee on legislative matters and other stakeholders deliberated the modalities for the passage of the #VAPPbill
- It was agreed that the Bill needed to be harmonized with other related Bills on Gender Based Violence and modifications made.
- In 2006/2007, #VAPPbill was however stalled in the face of the turmoil of tenure extension in NASS.
- In 2008, #VAPPbill returned to NASS, the “Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Bill 2008” was presented to the Senate.
- The Harmonized #VAPPBill was formally presented to the House of Representatives again on 9th December 2009.
- On 30th June 2010, #VAPPBill passed through its first reading in the House of Representatives.
- The #VAPPBill equally passed through its 2nd reading in Feb 2011 but yet again failed to be passed as NASS tenure ended.
- On the 16th November, 2011, the #VAPPbill was re-introduced to the 7th NASS, House of Reps under the lead sponsorship of Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa.
- Hon. @abikedabiri had emerged by consensus as new sponsor of #VAPPBill on 9th November, 2011; Bill sent for gazette 21st November 2011.
- #VAPPBill was gazetted on the 7th February, 2012; 1st reading on the 8th February 2012; 2nd reading on 21st June, 2012.
- Third and final reading of the #VAPPbill was done in HoR on 14/3/2013 & was then transmitted to the senate for concurrence.
- #VAPPBill has undergone the 1st reading at the senate and the leadership of the senate has assured of speedy consideration.
- #VAPPBill has undergone the 1st reading at the senate in March 2014 and the leadership of the senate through the Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba has assured of speedy consideration.
- #VAPPbill has been listed for Second Reading multiple times but yet to be read for the second time in the Senate.
If you are bothered by the spate of violence in Nigeria and wants a policy that may help to mitigate it, please lend your voice to the quick passage of #VAPPbill and provision for informed choices of women in cases of unwanted pregnancies arising from sexual violence.
Laz Ude Eze is a public health physician, global health ambassador and the Team lead of #Choice4Life Advocates. He tweets @donlaz4u