Women in Akwa Ibom State have declared total war against perpetrators of all acts of sexual abuse and violence against the girl-child and women in the State.
Led by the State Chairperson of Nigerian League of Women Voters(NILOWV) who is also the Deputy Speaker of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Rt. (Hon.) Princess Felicia Bassey, the Women make their decision public during a Walk/Sensitization exercise yesterday, at the Cenotaph, Udo Udoma Avenue and other major streets in Uyo, the State Capital.
The women numbering thousands said the declaration of total war against Women was necessitated by frequent cases and rising waves of sexual assaults of all kinds against the female gender by some randy men.
Wearing T-shirts and aprons with various inscriptions such “Say no to violence against women”, “Stop It Now!”, “Our Mothers, sisters, daughters”, “Rise and fight”, etc, the protesting women who spiced up the walk with anthem, jingles and inspirational women songs expressed anger at what they observed is an emerging social pattern which if stringent measures and urgent steps were not taken to curb its incidence could be endorsed by perverts and paedophiles as a normal lifestyle.
According to the State Chairperson of NILOWV, the exercise which will last for a little above two weeks began yesterday, December 4, 2019 with the theme: “16 Days Activism Against Gender-Based Violence”, will address issues such as physical abuse, paedophilia, child abuse and sex-for-marks that is rampant in tertiary institutions. Other critical areas of concern are sexual abuse, domestic violence, rape, defilement and femicide.
Speaking on behalf of the women, the deputy Speaker of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Princess Felicia Bassey who is also the Member representing Okobo State Constituency in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, emphasised that the Walk/ Sensitization campaign specifically aimed at raising the level of awareness of parents, guardians, governmental agencies and civil rights groups on the prevalence of these social evils and the danger they pose to the victims and society at large.
The Deputy Speaker maintained that it was time offenders and prospective perpetrators be placed on red alert that none of such acts of perversity by any person, irrespective of social status, will be tolerated by the women class and stakeholders who to say the least must have had enough already.
“As you can see, we have the full backing of the law. Appreciatively too, His Excellency, Governor Udom Emmanuel and his wife, Mrs. Martha Emmanuel cannot condone this evil and they both have shown tremendous support towards this cause”, the parliamentarian stated
She stated that henceforth, women will take full advantage of every available legal option to ensuring that those who may have become addicted or have hardened their hearts to these aspects of injustice were dealt with decisively, to serve as deterrent to others of their kind.
On her part, the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Agriculture, Dr.Glory Edet, stated that “It was obvious that rape is on the increase in our society. But how do you stop if and when you don’t speak out?. We want to let young girls and older women know that for anyone to abuse their dignity or trample upon their rights is a crime against the law, against morality, and against humanity. Most of these women don’t know their rights. But we all know that a woman is not a piece of furniture or toy to be hit and thrown about. So we are here to assure them that we are there to help them when the need arises. We are here to tell the women that the whole world is against all forms of violence and oppression against the womenfolk across ages, status and geography”.
Speaking, the National Membership Representative of Nigerian League of Women Voters, Dr. Ekaette Ebong Okon added that the situation can best be encapsulated in the more general word “defilement”.
“Let me use the word defilement as a broader term. Young girls are defiled, young boys are being sexually abused, mothers and wives are traumatized, and the whole thing has become daily features in the media. We must rise against this assault against Women in our State.
On her part, the deputy Chairperson of NILOWV, Mrs Inemesit Uwah, remarked thus: We are here today for the women of today, women of tomorrow and those of generations unborn to state unequivocally that we say no to all acts of violence. We hereby call on all appropriate authorities to come to our aid and always be ready to oppose and expose the mercenaries of this great assault on the female gender”
About steps already taken to manage the crisis, the Executive Chairman of Nsit Atai Local Government Area,Lady Emem Ibanga disclosed that the Child Rights Acts and other bills to protect women have been passed and many more of such were in the offing to ensure that offenders are prosecuted.
Lady Emem Ibanga who identified indecent dressing, flirting, greed, idleness, poor parental upbringing and general collapse of morality as some of the causal factors however advised younger women against such behaviours.
Others who lent their voices to the campaign against rape and other forms of sexual abuse include the Executive Chairman of Eastern Obolo, Hon. Mrs Victoria Tallick, Dr. Ini Adiakpan- State Secretary of NILOWV, Dr. Nse Udoh, Akwa Ibom Gender Focal Person, National Youth Representative of NILOWV, Comrade Idongesit Micah among others.
Beyond feelers from the sensitization campaign by the women today, Akwa Ibom State has in recent times been inundated with news of acts of sexual abuse and violence against women, reaching even to the church and homes where pastors sexually abuse unsuspecting female members and fathers defile even their underage daughters without qualms, respectively. It hoped that the campaign shall meet its aims.