By Patrick Obia
Barring any last minute change, the Cross River State House of Assembly is set to pass the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) bill this week.
This followed the public hearing on the bill and that of the disability rights on Thursday and Friday last week.
The bills are sponsored by the Deputy Whip of the House, Hon. Regina Anyogo (APC, Yala 1).
The VAPP bill seeks stiffer penalties to offenders of rape and gender based violence. It was introduced following a successful campaign by civil society actors especially, Project Alert on Violence Against Women and Girls led by rights advocate, Josephine Effah-Chukwuma and Basic Rights Counsel Initiative led by James Ibor Esq.
At the public hearing held inside the main chambers of the House, stakeholders from various civil society organizations pitched their contributions on the bill which the leadership said will be passed on, “Tuesday 14 or Wednesday 15 December, 2021.”
The wife of the governor, Mrs. Linda Ayade who was part of the public hearing said it is imperative to pass the bill of such owing to the rising cases of rape and gender based violence in the state.
“I am very happy with the outcome of this hearing today. We don’t want any violation of our women or of our children; the male gender is not left out, thank God it is also captured in the act because there is a lot of that happening. There are rising incidents and whatever is the reason for that we don’t know but we do not want that to happen again,” Ayade said.
On her part, Anyogo explained that, the bill is borne out of increasing numbers of rape and gender violence in the state. She expressed optimism Governor Ben Ayade will assent to it when passed.
“There are lot of issues like rape, violence against both genders in Cross River State and we thought it wise to come up with this bill embedded in Violence Against Persons Prohibition to end all forms of violence in Cross River State.
“We are very much satisfied with the inputs we have gotten today and we are still expecting more inputs from the public before the bill is passed into law.
“I am hundred percent confident the governor will assent to the bill. The government is interested in the well being of Cross Riverians; when passed, it will help to reduce rape and others spelt out in the bill,” Anyogo said.
In appreciation, the speaker of the Assembly, Hon. Eteng William, thanked the civil society, stakeholders, as well as the special committee for the inputs made which will either be removed or added.
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