Tag Archives: Senate

How #Choice4Life Advocates Responded to the Passage of #VAPPbill by the Senate

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Choice4Life Advocates

A cross-section of #Choice4Life Advocates

The number “13” signifies 2 major times during the sojourn of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Bill which was passed by the Senate on Tuesday, 5th May, 2015. #VAPPbill spent a total of 13 years at the National Assembly having been read for the first time on the floor of the House of Representatives on March 28, 2002. Also, it got passed on the 13th month since a team of Nigerian youths known as #Choice4Life Advocates resolved to use social media to advocate for the passage of the bill. 32 persons started the group on April 3, 2014; the number increased to 42 in October and 54 in November 2014. The Team Lead of the group is Dr Laz Ude Eze (a public health physician) while Mr. Francis Anyaegbu (a youth development consultant) and BigMo of @WazobiaFMAbuja are Co-Leads.

This is how some of the advocates reacted to the news of the passage of #VAPPbill;

“YAGAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA… I’m overjoyed” – @KoloKennethK

“Congratulations to everyone. This is a great news for us all. We should move to the next line of action immediately, which is to Lobby Mr President to Sign. ” – Olalekan Badmus @Weabless

“The #VAPPbill has been passed!!!! #Choice4Life we did it!!!” – Pharm. Mukhtar Ijaiya @Mukhtar_Dotun

“Congrats on the passage of the #VAPPbill! Great work! Well done. So what’s next? Presidential assent abi?” – @toluogunlesi

“Cooooorrrrrect!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ehen. Now the sense is made.” – Jeremiah Agenyi @JerryAgenyi

“#VAPPBill  Yaaay!” – Nze Sylva Ifedigbo @nzesylva

“Beautiful. Am so sure the president will sign it before leaving the office.” – Jennifer Amadi @AmadiJen

“VAPPBILL passed. Positive news. More ahead… #choice4life” – Franklin Uzor @franchl

“This is really great news. We should all be proud to have contributed, in every small way to this 🙂 And thank you to Ipas and partner organizations who have broken their backs for all these years pushing this. Posterity will remember you kindly! Now to Presidential assent & implementation” – Dr Chijioke Kaduru @dr_kaduru

“13th yr in NASS, 13th month of #Choice4Life Advocacy; & #VAPPbill got passed on my wife’s birthday!
I’m extremely excited!” – Dr Laz Ude Eze @donlaz4u

“This is great news. Well done all!” – @BukkyShonibare

#Choice4Life Advocates

#Choice4Life Advocates at Family Planning Conference 2014

“Yesssss!!! Together we made it. Unto the next one, staying positive of Mr President’s assent.Cheers team!” – Dr Hamid Adediran @doctalk01

“Best news today VAPP Bill Passed by the Senate” – Uche Chuta @nnabros

“Thanks to the Senate for passing the #VAPPBill, Dear PGEJ, Kindly sign it before you leave. Now the real work starts” – Blessing Timidi-Digha @SuperGirlTimidi
“This is wonderful news,kudos to the team!” – Chika Uneke @disisck
“Ths is awesome! I am glad our hashtag will change! Congrats to us all. This is great news I must say!” – @AyodejiOsowobi
“This is great! Well done, guys!” – Barr. Gabriel Okoro @Okoro212
“This is great news as this bill will cancel out the section in the penal code that violates womens rights!” – Dr Ugochi Nnaji @guchluv
“Congrats to everyone. I am glad to hear this, great news indeed. Next line of action, is for Mr. President to sign it. Once again, well done guys.” – Ayodele Taofiq-Fanida @AyodeleFanida
“Waoh! Awesome! ‎ This is great news. ‎Congrats everyone for this. I’m so elated!” – @FrancisAnyaegbu
“Wow!!!! This is great news. At long last, I guess the next step is to ensure the president sign it into law before the expiration of his tenure.” – Kamil Alebiosu @Al_Agowee
“#SenateThankYouForPassingTheVAPPBill e remain make Presido GEJ give am pass mark before May 29th.” – BigMoNaija

Follow the hashtag #Choice4Life for more reactions.

#Choice4Life: FactSheet on #VAPPbill

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Background

Nigeria’s return to demographic governance in 1999 provided the context for renewed vigour around the demand for legal frameworks and mechanisms. This translated into several draft legislations in form of executive and private member Bills being articulated and presented to the National and in some cases State Houses of Assembly. In may 2002, the legislative Advocacy Coalition on Violence Against Women (LACVAW) with support from the International Human Rights Law Group now LAWGROUP, articulated and submitted to the National Assembly, a Bill titled the Violence Against Women (Prohibition) Bill, 2003 but the Bill was not passed during that legislative session. In 2008, concerned about the consistent failure to realize a legal framework to addressing the increasing prevalence of violence in Nigeria, and with support from DFID defunct security, Justice and Growth Programme, the Coalition coordinated by Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA) and International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Nigeria; undertook an audit of Bills submitted to the National Assembly to extract and harmonize those that particularly bear relevance to the issues of violence against women. This was followed by intensive advocacy and campaign activities which were hyped during the 2009 international commemoration of 16 Days activism of violence Against Women. The campaign has been sustained by the media support it has generated and its endorsement by the citizens of Nigeria, most critically by key actors in the National Assembly, government, the judiciary, leaders of faith based and traditional institutions.

In April 2014, a group of passionate young Nigerian professionals led by Dr Laz Ude Eze known as #Choice4Life Advocates resolved to use social media to promote Women Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (WSRHR) including advocacy for the passage of #VAPPbill. The campaign has since gained momentum on social media.

Short Title

Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Bill, 2011 VAPPbill

Full Title of the Bill

A bill for an act to eliminate violence in private and public life, prohibit all forms of violence in private and public life, prohibit all forms of violence including physical, sexual, psychological, domestic, harmful, traditional practices, discrimination against persons, and provide maximum protection and effective remedies for victims and punishments of offenders.

What is it about?

The Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Bill 2011is a proposed legislation which defines violence, seeks to eliminate violence in private and public life, prohibits all forms of violence, sexual, psychological, domestic, Harmful traditional practices (HTP), discrimination against persons and provides all round protection and effective remedies for victims as well as punishment of offenders.

What the Bill Seeks to Do

It seeks to eliminate or reduce to a minimum the occurrence of gender based violence in the Nigerian society especially in homes, public spaces or even in conflict situations. It therefore protects the Right of Nigerians against violence especially violence against women. It aims at addressing the gaps in current laws on violence in private and public spaces. Specifically, it is aimed at responding to old and emerging forms of violence in particular, gender based violence.

Legal and Social implication of the Bill

it criminalises violence against ALL persons, providing matching penalties for offences in order to halt the high level of impunity of offenders in private spaces, especially domestic violence in all its ramifications.

What makes the Bill Acceptable?

It is a gender neutral thus affirming the fact that all persons suffer some forms of violence and thereby responds to concerns raised on the focus of women only.

It identifies and defines all forms of violence in line with the reality and experiences in Nigeria and the county’s obligations under international and regional treaties especially CEDAW, the African Union Protocol on the Rights of Women and Rome Statue.

It consolidates and realigns the provision of the Penal Code/Criminal code/Evidence Act etc to respond to current forms of violations in all circumstances.

It provides for institutional arrangements to facilitate and enhance access to justice and support for survivors of violence

It clearly allots specialized roles for the institutions such as social welfare departments, hospitals, religious institutions, the police and other law enforcement agencies.

Partners and Supporters of the Bill

Members of the Senate and House of the Representatives relevant Committees massively supported by other members of the two Chambers, the Ministry of Women Affairs, Developments partners especially the DFID, UNFPA, UNICEF, UN Women, Ipas, and ActionAid, the National Human Rights Commission , the Nigeria Police Force, national and private owned print and electronic media, the entire membership of LACVAW, WRAPA Raising Her Voice Project Partners and indeed all Civil Society Organizations and individual working on women’s human rights.

Status of the Bill

The Bill was passed by the House of Representatives in March 2013. It passed 2nd Reading at the Senate on October 16, 2014 and went through a successful public Hearing at the Senate in March 2015. It is awaiting 3rd (final) Reading at the Senate and transmission to the President for assent.

Structure and Scope of the Bill

The Bill is laid in 7 parts including its schedules while it has about 318 provisions in 51 major sections, it is a product of an inclusive and consultative process and presents a harmonized legislation that incorporates 9 other Bills presented before the National Assembly of Nigeria from 1999 to 2008

Summary Provisions of the Bill

Section 1 6

Defines and punishes the offences of rape, willfully inflicting physical injury on another by means of any weapon, substance or object, coercion, willfully placing another in fear of physical injury, compelling another to engage in any conduct or act detrimental to the physical or psychological well-being of the person and Female Genital Mutilation.

Section 7 8

Punishes act of frustrating investigation and prosecution of offenders under the Act and wilfully making false statements with the aim of initiating investigation or criminal proceedings under this Act.

Section 9-14

Concerns forcefully evicting a marriage partner from his/her home or denies access except pursuant to a court order, confining or depriving a person of his/her liberty, causing mischief or destruction or damage to property with intent to cause or knowing that it is likely to cause distress or annoyance, forced financial dependence or economic abuse, force isolation or separation from family and friends, emotional verbal and psychological abuse.

Section 15 16

Punishes harmful widowhood practice, abandonment of spouse, children and other dependent without sustenance

Section 17 18

Punishes stalking and intimidation of another

Section 19-22

Concerns spousal/partner battery, harmful traditional practice, substance attack and administering substance to stupefy or overpower another.

Section23 24

Punishes political violence and violence by state actors

Section25 26

Punishes incent and indecent exposure of genital organs

Part 1

Provides for offenses under the act

Part 2

Concerns the jurisdiction of courts and issuance of protection order

Part3

Calls for the registration and defines the powers of service providers and protection officers, provides for the appointment of coordinator for prevention of domestic violence and defines dangerous sexual offenders.

Part4

Provides for the establishment of regulatory Body to be known as Agency on violence Against Persons while expanding the mandate of National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and other related matters (NAPTIP) to act as interim regulatory body pending the setting up of the Agency.

Part5

Deals with consequential amendment to review obsolete and discriminatory laws by its general savings and repeal

Part6

Deals with interpretation of terms and concepts as used in the Act

Part7

Schedules

Credit to: #Choice4Life; LACVAW

Schedules

[#Choice4Life]: What is #VAPPbill? 4 Must-Know Q&A on the Popular Bill!

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VAPPbill1. What is #VAPPbill?

The Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Bill 2011is a proposed legislation which defines violence, seeks to eliminate violence in private and public life, prohibits all forms of violence, sexual, psychological, domestic, Harmful traditional practices (HTP), discrimination against persons and provides all round protection and effective remedies for victims as well as punishment of offenders. It was passed by the House of Representatives in March 2013. It passed through 2nd Reading unanimously on October 16, 2014.

2. What does the Bill Seek to Do?

It seeks to eliminate or reduce to a minimum the occurrence of gender based violence in the Nigerian society especially in homes, public spaces or even in conflict situations. It therefore protects the Right of Nigerians against violence especially violence against women. It aims at addressing the gaps in current laws on violence in private and public spaces. Specifically, it is aimed at responding to old and emerging forms of violence; in particular gender based violence.

3. What are the Legal and Social implications of the Bill?

it criminalizes violence against ALL persons, providing matching penalties for offenses in order to halt the high level of impunity of offenders in private spaces, especially domestic violence in all its ramifications. It also creates a support system for victims of violence to minimize pains and enhance recovery.

4. Who supports the #VAPPbill?

Members of the Senate and House of the Representatives relevant Committees massively supported by other members of the two Chambers, the Ministry of Women Affairs, Developments partners especially the DFID, UNFPA, UNICEF, UN Women, Ipas, and ActionAid, the National Human Rights Commission , the Nigeria Police Force, national and private owned print and electronic media, the entire membership of Legislative Advocacy Coalition on Violence Against Women (LACVAW), #Choice4Life Advocates, @HAPPYNigeria, Women Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA) Raising Her Voice Project Partners and indeed all Civil Society Organizations and individual working on women’s human rights.

You too can also support the bill by doing the following;

  • Share this post on your social media platforms
  • Commend the National Assembly for their actions so far on this bill and encourage the Senate to expedite action and pass it before the elections.
  • Stand against violence against persons in any form.

Lend your voice in support of a quick passage of #VAPPbill!

Credit to: LACVAW, #Choice4Life Advocates

[#Choice4Life]: Youths demand Access to Safe and Legal Abortion for Victims of Rape

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GLOBAL DAY OF ACTION FOR ACCESS TO SAFE AND LEGAL ABORTION

Press Statement

“Abortion” is one word many Nigerians have been made to believe is a terrible one. Not many think it is a right thing to do under any condition. But such stance may have been informed by lack of appropriate information, inadequate knowledge or lack of value for the life of women.

Nigeria has retained a British Abortion Law of 1861, one of her colonial laws for more than a century. Both the Penal Code of Northern Nigeria and Criminal Code of Southern Nigeria drawn the colonial abortion law made access to safe abortion very difficult. Ironically, while the law remains in place and rarely utilized, many Nigerian women lose their lives to unsafe abortion. Many of the people affected are victims of rape and incest.

Abortion is safe when it is performed by a competent skilled medical professional at a health facility well equipped for such procedure. There are copious evidences which show that mortality from safe induced abortion is extremely rare. On the other hand, unsafe abortion is a major cause of maternal death in Nigeria. Today in Nigeria, approximately 10,000 girls and women die from complications of unsafe abortion every year. Many who survive are left to live with emotional trauma, chronic pelvic pain and infertility.

Incidents of rape appear to be rising in Nigeria. At least 3,800 cases of rape have been reported in the past three years and still counting. The prevalence of rape cut across religion, tribe or geographical location. In a country like Nigeria with restrictive abortion laws, unwanted pregnancies that arise from rape or incest lead to unsafe abortion and its complications including loss of lives. In the real sense, not many women would want a situation that will lead to induced abortion, but the reality is that these situations arise daily in Nigeria.

As young professionals who are convinced by evidences that universal access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information and quality services would enable individual Nigerian women to live healthier lives and contribute to national development, we strongly demand the following;

  • That the Senate pass the Violence against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Bill without further delay.
  • That the National Assembly make laws to allow women in Nigeria make informed choices including Safe and Legal Abortion in cases of unwanted pregnancies arising from Rape, Incest or where the pregnancy continues to threaten the health of the woman.
  • That Government of Nigeria institute comprehensive sexuality education for adolescents and improve access to contraceptives for Nigerian women; these would help to prevent unwanted pregnancies arising from consensual sexual relationships.

Ghana made the recommended legislation on safe and legal abortion and after a couple of years, evidence shows reduction in unsafe abortion and abortion-related mortality. There was no significant increase in the overall number of abortion procedures in the country either.

For every case of unwanted pregnancy, men are involved. Should we continue to allow the woman alone suffer the consequences? This issue is not about religion. It is about humanity. It is about Choice for Life. Let Nigeria grant victims of rape or incest the right to make choices that will enhance the quality of their lives. Such choices should include carrying the unwanted pregnancy to term or safe abortion. Every woman counts and should be allowed to make choices for life!

Dr Laz Ude Eze, MPH, CPH

For #Choice4Life Advocates

#Choice4Life Advocates are 32 young Nigerians from diverse ethno-religious and social background across Nigeria, who uses social media platforms to promote sexual and reproductive health and rights of women in Nigeria.

#Choice4Life: 20 Things You Need to Know about the History of #VAPPbill

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ImageThe 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.

  1. #VAPPbill was 1st presented to NASS as the Violence Against Women (Prohibition) Bill on May 28, 2002.
  2. It was sponsored by the then Chair of the House Committee on Women Affairs, Hon. Florence Aya
  3. #VAPPbill was published in the Legislative Gazette in May 2003, at the tail end of the tenure of the Legislature
  4. In 2003, legislative process on #VAPPbill was commenced afresh.
  5. In commemoration of the 2004 International Women’s Day, a Legislative Consultation on the Bill was held on #VAPPbill.
  6. The sponsorship base of #VAPPbill was also expanded with the support of the then Speaker, Hon. Aminu Bello-Masari and over 45 others
  7. In May 2005, Technical Committee on legislative matters and other stakeholders deliberated the modalities for the passage of the #VAPPbill
  8. It was agreed that the Bill needed to be harmonized with other related Bills on Gender Based Violence and modifications made.
  9. In 2006/2007, #VAPPbill was however stalled in the face of the turmoil of tenure extension in NASS.
  10. In 2008, #VAPPbill returned to NASS, the “Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Bill 2008” was presented to the Senate.
  11. The Harmonized #VAPPBill was formally presented to the House of Representatives again on 9th December 2009.
  12. On 30th June 2010, #VAPPBill passed through its first reading in the House of Representatives.
  13. The #VAPPBill equally passed through its 2nd reading in Feb 2011 but yet again failed to be passed as NASS tenure ended.
  14. 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.
  15. Hon. @abikedabiri had emerged by consensus as new sponsor of #VAPPBill on 9th November, 2011; Bill sent for gazette 21st November 2011.
  16. #VAPPBill was gazetted on the 7th February, 2012; 1st reading on the 8th February 2012; 2nd reading on 21st June, 2012.
  17. Third and final reading of the #VAPPbill was done in HoR on 14/3/2013 & was then transmitted to the senate for concurrence.
  18. #VAPPBill has undergone the 1st reading at the senate and the leadership of the senate has assured of speedy consideration.
  19. #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.
  20. #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