Mrs Hadiza Aminu, EU, UN Spotlight Initiative Coordinator, said this in Kano on Monday during a media dialogue Stoplight Initiative on ending violence against women and girls in Nigeria.
Aminu said 43 per cent of girls were married before the age of 18 and 17 per cent married before 15, while 20,000 new cases of obstetric fistula occurred every year, according to the .National Demographic Health Survey of 2013.
The EU, UN Spotlight Initiative is a global partnership aimed at eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls and all harmful practices in support of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.
Aminu said that the project would start in five pilot states of Adamawa, Ebonyi, Cross Rivers, Sokoto and Lagos as well as the Federal Capital Territory and Splits.
She said that violence and other forms of harmful practices against women and girls were reported to be of epidemic proportions and this trend was on the rise in the country.
She said that there was a need to have the right people to discuss social norms.
Aminu said the country had the problem of a lack of data but that with the structures in the states, data could be generated with proper training.
She said that the groups would support government agencies in- charge of data generation.
She said that the EU and UN would ensure that states had family courts to handle cases of violence.
Mr Danladi Bako, a former Commissioner for Communication in Sokoto State, said that most women did not report violence due to different reasons which might be cultural, religious or fear of the future.
Bako said that poverty could increase violence with social vices, adding that the issues of violence and rape had not been taken seriously in the country.
Bako advised that EU and UN should have people in radio and television stations, adding that there was a need for more men to be involved in the campaign against violence.
”There is a disconnect between what the men want and what the women want; so there must be a way to harmonise things to arrive at a point, ” he said.
Bako said that the country needed to fashion a way for men to accept gender equality and called for the political will from the government to address the issues.
He advocated an educational system that would be used to educate people on anger management as 80 per cent of violence was based on provocation.
Bako also advised that traditional leaders be involved in the fight against violence.
Mr James Ibor, a human rights activist and member of Basic Right Counsel Initiative, said the issue of discrimination against women was common and the situation must change by creating strong awareness.
Ibor said Nigeria ratified the Convention for The Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1985 but international treaties could only go into effect when parliament put in a corresponding domesticated law.
He urged the media to promote the values of gender equality.
Mrs Hapsatu Isiyaku, Assistant Director, National Population Commission, said that violence against women and children was a monster that required synergy and collaboration to eradicate violence in the society.
Isiyaku said that the commission was established to ensure that all children born were duly registered and issued birth certificates as a means of identity.
She said that birth certificate was the first legal identify recognised by law and that any child that was not registered did not exist.
She advised the media to dedicate part of the news and other programmes to sensitising members of the public to the rights of women and children andalso to have birth certificates for their children. (NAN)