Niger moves to combat gender-based violence through family courts

Niger moves to combat gender-based violence through family courts

By Obinna Unaeze
In a significant move to expedite justice for victims of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), the Niger State Government has initiated plans to set up family courts.

Hajiya Hadiza Shiru, the Permanent Secretary in the State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, revealed that the establishment of these courts aims to streamline the legal process for SGBV cases in the state.

She spoke during a free medical outreach organised by the ministry in collaboration with the state office of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

Shiru highlighted the importance of addressing obstacles like stigmatisation that deter victims from reporting cases.

She emphasised the directive from the Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, to provide full protection for victims and establish family courts where stakeholders can freely speak out.

The collaboration between the Ministry of Women Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, and the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) is underway to fast-track the establishment of these family courts.

Shiru expressed optimism that, by 2024, the courts would be fully operational in the state.

According to her, Niger State already has existing laws, including the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) law and the Child Right law, aimed at protecting women and children from violence.

Shiru reported that despite these laws, there have been numerous cases of child abuse, defilement, and gender-based violence in the state.

The State Coordinator of NHRC, Dr Nuhu Mohammed, highlighted the significance of the 16-day activism against GBV, running from Nov.

25 to Dec.

10.

The 2023 theme, “Invest to Prevent Violence Against Women and Children,” underscores the importance of financing various prevention strategies to end violence against women and girls.

In Niger State, with over 1,700 reported cases of GBV this year, efforts are being made to secure justice for victims, with 20 prosecutions already initiated.

The proactive approach taken by the government signals a commitment to combating SGBV and ensuring a safer environment for all citizens.

Edited by Dorcas Jonah/Isaac Ukpoju

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