By Ogar Monday
Community leaders in Akamkpa Local Government Area of Cross River State have added their voices to the fight to eliminate all forms of Gender Based Violence, GBV, especially, against women and children, as a community surveillance team with a responsibility to report and escalate cases of GBV in their communities has been inaugurated.
Earlier speaking at the event held within the Akamkpa Local Government Secretariat, Ms. Nancy Nsor, Director of Women Development, Cross River State Ministry of Women Affairs said the event which is part of Spotlight Initiative EndVAWG/EndVAC campaigns is meant to allow community ownership of the process and make them understand and work to end some of the dangerous cultural practices.
“This violence against women and children happens in our communities and we are doing this as a collaboration between the government and the communities. There is a need for all of us to stop shading and treating issues of rape and gender-based violence as family issues, as perpetrators of these crimes usually move to other victims if they are not stopped.” She said.
On his part, Mr. Kebe Ikpi, the Cross River State Chairperson of Child Protection Network, CPN, said the Cross River State VAPP law is comprehensive in its dealing with issues of rape and violence against women.
“The Cross River VAPP law signed in December 2021 has redefined rape and prescribed huge punishment for gender-based violence. We should all understand that where there is a conflict between the law and culture, the law is to be followed,” advising the community surveillance team to document cases and follow up after reporting.
Kebe added that the spotlight initiative project is sponsored by the European Union and that Cross River State is one of the few States in Nigeria benefiting from the project.
Ntufam Augustine Orok who spoke on behalf of the community maintained that the communities have given their word and they have no intention of going back on it, adding that the effects of gender-based violence are felt by all whether male or female.
Augustine promised that they will go back to ensure that the menace of GBV is brought to a halt.
Key highlights of the 2-day event included the signing of a communique by the community, the recognition of the Youth Leader of the Isong Inyang community, Mr. Linus Achara for his outing and reporting of suspected rapists and abuses in his community, and the inauguration of the community surveillance team made up of a traditional leader, a woman leader, a male youth leader, a female youth leader, a person with disabilities and a religious leader from each community.