Traditional rulers resolve to rescue Abia women, girls from gender-based violence

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Traditional rulers in Abia State, yesterday, resolved to free the state from all forms of violence against women and girls and expressed support for inclusion of women in leadership, politics and decision-making in matters that affect them.

They also expressed support for implementation of Supreme Court judgment in Ukeje Versus Ukeje, which they said, ruled that females have the right as next of kin and are entitled to property inheritance whether married or not.

These were part of the 10-point communiqué the traditional rulers issued after a stakeholders strategic conference in Umuahia, which centred on elimination of violence against women and girls.

The conference was with the state Traditional Rulers Council, WomenAid Collective (WACOL), Ford Foundation state ministries of women affairs and justice, as well as the 50/50 Action Women of Abia State.

In the communiqué signed by Chairman of the Traditional Rulers Council, Eze Joseph Nwabeke, they condemned all forms of violence against women and girls in Abia State and committed to their empowerment.

“We commit to actions on codification of community by-laws and regulations in tandem with extant laws and regulations that will protect women and girls. This include rejection of harmful widowhood and traditional practices like early or forced child marriage, actions that lead to high cases of Vesico-Vaginal Fistula (VVF) that is handful to women’s reproductive organs,” they said.

They also expressed commitment to address respect for widows and widowers’ rights, equal opportunities for male and female children, especially ending discrimination in their education and allowing homes headed by female farmers access to land for farming.

Besides, they vowed to enhance security for women farmers, who they noted, were victims of conflicts, including those between herdsman and farmers, even as they pledged to mediate in human and women’s rights cases in line with state, national, regional and international human rights laws.

Speaking before the start of the conference, Executive Director of WACOL, Prof. Joy Ezeilo, said the group remained committed to its mandate of addressing all actions against the female gender and gender-based violence.

According to Ford Foundation’s Officer in Nigeria, Mrs. Ijeoma Uzoeshi, the international organisation has been supporting WACOL’s activities.

A lecturer in law at the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), Akachi Nwogu-Ikojo, who delivered a paper on codification of cultural norms and practices that affect women and girls in the state, urged enactment of laws to penalise men who batter their wives.

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