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Violence against women and children: injustices meted to women interconnected with poverty – Chikwendu

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… Prof Ezeilo says poverty is a cause and consequence of violence against women

By Chibuike Nwabuko

Abuja (Sundiata Post) – The Executive Director of My Take Initiative, Rosemary Chikwendu, said its organisation’s investigation into violence against women and children showed that the injustices meted to women are interconnected with poverty and other societal ills.

This is also coming at a time when Prof Joy Ezeilo has identified “poverty” as a cause and consequence of violence against women.

They made assertion at a meeting of the United Nations Non-Government Organisation Committee on the Status of Women (UN NGOCSW) in Abuja on Friday.

The event tagged, ‘interconnectedness between poverty and other societal ills, in the context of climate change’, was the 66th UN commission on the status of women.

According to Chikwendu, “Women find it difficult to leave abusive relationships or marriages for the fear of poverty and sole responsibilities of taking care of their children,”

She added that most women rely on agriculture and farming for livelihood, but that climate change is now leaving them with little or no means of livelihood.

The ED also noted that poverty is what makes a woman to return to an abusive husband. “It is what makes a woman accept settlement rather than pursue justice, and it is what is hindering the participation of women in politics.”

She said her organisation had empowered people living with disabilities and recently helped 20 internally displaced women with wheelchairs to mark International Women’s Day.

“We provided wheelchairs for some internally displaced women. We are planning on providing 100 wheelchairs for 100 women, 100 white cane for visually challenged students,” Mrs Chikwendu added.

In her remarks, the keynote speaker, Prof. Joy Ezeilo, who joined virtually, said poverty “is a cause and consequence of violence against women”, adding that climate change has further exposed more women to violence and abuses such as sex abuses as they try to survive through farming and other menial agricultural practices.

The Professor of law said: “If you are looking at climate change, you will notice that women are closest to the environment. Climate change exposes more women to abuses such as sex anuses.

She therefore called for prioritisation of girls education, saying they need support. Ezeilo noted that several laws exist but that the implementation has been a problem. She called on the National Assembly not to leave women out in their legislation.

The Executive Secretary of NHRC, Tony Ojukwu, who was represented by his special adviser on human rights, Hilary Ogbonna, said Nigeria was among the top three countries with the highest number of poor people.

He noted that the notion of human rights is based on dignity, adding that poverty is an assault on that dignity.

“Where there is poverty, there is no dignity and where there is no dignity, there are no human rights,” he said.

He added that poverty is usually caused by human right violation most of which are caused by the government.

“All the human resources that are supposed to empower individuals are not accessible or within the fundamental human rights. Privatisation of basic amenities is another factor that is deepening poverty,” he added.

He also noted that when people are jobless, women especially, are sometimes left with no other option than to go into prostitution with their bodies just to survive and as a result end up in a worse situation.

“These women if arrested face rape and other violations in detention because prostitution is a crime in Nigeria”, Mr Ojukwu stated.

Mr Ojukwu cited the UN guidelines on poverty eradication in highlighting solutions to the problems. He said poverty eradication programme must include coherent policies and “constitutionalisation of social and economic rights”, among other steps.

He added that states must ensure that facilities, goods and services required for the enjoyment of human rights are accessible, adaptable, affordable and of good quality.

He said Nigeria’s major target to eradicating poverty is the implementation of anti-poverty strategy that would recognise the international development target to which Nigeria has already subscribed to.

Other speakers at the event were President of International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Amina Agbaje, and an American professor of law, Luz Ortis-Nagle.

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