FG needs to deploy technology in tackling violence during election – CSO

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Federal government has been advised to tackle violence during the upcoming electoral season by deploying technology.

The advised was given on Thursday in Abuja by a Civil Society Organisation, CSO, Stand To End Rape, STER, which lamented that many incidences of electoral violence are against women in the country.

The Executive Director of STER, Oluwaseun Osowobi, during a press briefing and launch of Strategic Innovation Fund, SIF, project report, titled: “Vulnerable and Outside the Margins: From Challenges to Informed Inclusion,” said national and state governments including communities should leverage technology to tackle electoral violence.

She urged that a nationwide awareness-raising initiative on the use of platforms to report apps and training should be implemented across the country, noting that this will aid data tracking on incidences of violence during elections in real-time and also equip security agencies to track persons in precarious situations, intervene and make available prompt support.

Osowobi called on federal government to double its effort in combatting violence against women, particularly on the domestication and implementation of all international and regional human rights treaties to protect women’s rights.

She pointed-out that there is a need for the state Houses of Assembly to ensure the adoption and implementation of the violence Against Persons Prohibition, VAPP, Act and Child Right Act.

She said: “Review of the VAPP Act by the Human Rights Experts established in November 2015 and mandated to compile a list of laws to be reviewed for compliance with human rights norms and standards. This would be done under the purview of the National Human Rights Commission which is vested in national human rights institutions in receiving and investigating complaints of human rights abuses, with the power to enforce decisions.

“Domestication and implementation of the CEDAW and the Maputo Protocol and other international and regional human rights treaties to protect women’s rights.

“The State Houses of Assembly should ensure the adoption and proper implementation of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act and Child Rights Act.

“Women’s rights must be prioritized in allocating funding and training government officials, including police officers and court officials. Members of the police force should receive in-depth training while in and after graduating from the Police Academy on adequate and survivor-centered response to gender-based violence.

“Nationwide Sensitisation Efforts by The National Orientation Agency., Independent National Electoral Commission and other stakeholders, including CSOs. This would also include training for election/political/security stakeholders by the Electoral body.

“Adequate security, welfare and logistics should be provided for Corp members involved in election duties. STER reiterates the call for security reinforcement for all the Adhoc staff involved in elections, as a preventive strategy, especially NYSC members in volatile areas.”

Osowobi revealed that findings from the SIF survey which aimed at examining the troubling, multi-dimensional phenomenon of violence against women in politics and elections in Nigeria, have shown that there have been scores of cases regarding rape of ad-hoc staff, particularly corp members who were delegated to cover elections at areas without tight security.

She lamented: “The electoral process in Nigeria is not free from violence, and women face significant gender-based vulnerabilities. In the year prior to the elections, Nigeria experienced more political violence than it had during its previous election cycle in 2011, when over 1000 fatalities were reported.

“Among the respondents for this study who identify as electoral ad-hoc staff, particularly the Corp (NYSC) members, about 11% of them report that they have either been raped or sexually harassed based on their involvement in the electoral process. Similarly, about 21% of the Corps members reveal that violence has been perpetrated against them by law enforcement officials as a result of their affiliations with electoral management agencies.”

Earlier, the Programme Manager, Women Rights Unit, ActionAid Nigeria, Nkechi Kanny, commended the STER initiative for its efforts in conducting a survey in a bid to address gender based violence in Nigeria.

The SIF project was likewise funded by the Action Aid Nigeria.

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