Project Alert Ends 3-Day Town Hall Meeting In Calabar South, Odukpani, And Akamkpa

In Breaking News, Civic Space, Reports

By Ogar Monday

Communities in Cross River State have been encouraged to take ownership of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Law and the Disability Rights Law (DRL), as both laws have expanded the definition of violence and rape.

The communities were warned against treating issues around rape “as a family matter” as the VAPP law now penalizes a person who tries shielding a rape suspect from the law.

This admonition was made at three separate community town hall meetings held with Chiefs, market women groups, PWDs, age groups, and the Police in Calabar South, Odukpani, and Akamkpa. It was organized by Project Alert and Basic Rights Counsel Initiative with support from OSIWA.

Speaking on the Disability Rights Law, a facilitator, Mr. Ogar Inyang held that the law aims to create an equal society for PWDs and allow them to access public spaces without discrimination.

Mr. Ogar added that the law stipulates punishment for defaulters, ranging from fines to jail terms and that a society that is disability-friendly benefits everyone as disability can befall anyone and at any time.

On his part, Kebe Ikpi, Coordinator of the State Child Protection Network, speaking on the VAPP law said that first the definition of rape has been expanded to now be an offense that can be committed by a woman, that the law now recognizes spousal rape, deals with marital property and recognize the right of women to own properties.

Kebe held that all sexual activities with a person under 18 are considered rape whether consent was obtained or not.

In Calabar South, Ms. Iquo Mkpang of the Advocacy for Women With Disabilities Advocacy (AWWDI) said there is still a need to take the advocacy downward, especially for public transport operators, as the PWD community is heavily discriminated against by this set.

She also promised to arm herself and her group with the law and defend themselves when possible.

In Odukpani, Chief Asuquo Akiba Etim of Inuakpa-Okoyong Community thanked Project Alert for holding the town hall meeting but encouraged the group to help make it easier for persons to report issues of rape in the communities.

For Ntufam Micheal Asuquo Offiong, in Akamkpa, he pleaded that more copies of the law should be made available, and advised the Police to stop acting as judges over matters that they should ordinarily be charging to court.

Gov. Ben Ayade had on January 31st, 2021 signed the VAPP and DRL.

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