By Angela Nwaeze

The expect, David Onyinyechi Agu, a Consultant with Development Strategy Centre, Nigeria, disclosed this on Monday while delivering his keynote address during a one day workshop in Abakaliki, Ebonyi state capital.

Participants at the workshop

The one day review workshop for stakeholders was organized by a non-governmental organization, Center for Social Justice (CSJ), with the support of the European Union-United Nations Spotlight Initiative.

Agu explained that the available records of the state’s budget between 2016 to 2019 shows that the state did not carry out any notable project on the sector.

Stating: “We observed that there has been an increase in the level of sexual based violence against women compared to what it was previously especially in 2013 and now. And that demands that government should do more in the area of interventions to ensure that these vices are curtailed”.

“Between 2016 and 2019 there is only one line item in the entire budget that speaks to the issue of gender based violence. Outside that we don’t have any other line item in it. Even the little that was budgeted was not implemented and that means that nothing was done within these period targeted at reducing sexual gender based violence”.

“Activities of donor agencies and civil society organizations have been helping to give voice to the issue but that is not enough. Government has to be doing something and must also be seen to be doing something to eliminate the vice from our society’, he said.

Noting that any donor funds being accessed by the state government should also be captured in the budget.

“Even for this particular indicator, the most recent data show that the state still posts a high record of more than 16% of the women being married before they turned 18 years of age.

“Similarly, there has been an improvement in the proportion of women and girls in Ebonyi state who had one form of female genital mutilation or the other. However, the improvement does not necessarily stand for total elimination of the problem.

“This is because up to 5.2% and 53.2% of the girls and women respectively still had one form of genital mutilation or the other as at 2018. These data are very scary considering the fact that these harmful practices are usually associated with the prevalence of women who suffer from Vesico-Vaginal Gistula (VVF)”.

On his part, the Lead Director of CSJ, Eze Onyekpere, called for budgetary provisions for capital projects that would help eliminate sexual gender based violence, violence against women and girls and harmful practices in the state.

Onyekpere maintained that the little provisions made against sexual gender based violence in the state are not usually executed and called for an end to it to reduce or eliminate the violence.

He reiterated that with more sensitization, more policy base analysis, sexual gender based violence will start reducing in the nearest future especially when the surviours and victims begin to claim their rights and make it impossible for the perpetrators to think twice before embarking on the act.

“This gathering is called to valid the study we have done on budgeting for reduction of violence against women, reduction of harmful traditional practices and reduction sexual and gender based violence as well as promoting the enjoyment of sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls.

“We are trying to see the resources the state government put behind the laws against on gender based violence to be able to implement them because we know that laws and policies and plans are as good as the resources being dedicated to implement them. So, we are looking at what has been the budget? How much of that budget has been released? If it has been released, how much of it has been utilized and whether there have been value for money and the impact of the state government investment”, added.

However, the Executive Director Neighborhood Initiative for Women Advancement (NIWA), Nancy Oko-Onya, pointed out that the meeting will validate the data collected on the state on sexual reproductive health and rights, how much the state budgets, whether there are budgetary allocations for issues of sexual reproductive health and rights.

Nancy frowned at sexual violence and other harmful practices against the girl child and women, stating that the act is on the increase in the state despite the government claim that it has reduced as a result of its policies against the acts.

“The thing is that the law is there, how effective is the law? How many people know that the law exists? How many people have been prosecuted? How many people have been jailed”, she asked.

While the Senior Special Assistant to Governor David Umahi on Sustainable Development Goals, Mrs. Ngozi Obichukwu said: “we are just coming out of the recession. So people have to bear with the government. All the budgetary provisions are lean”.

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