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VAPP Act: Alternative Dispute Resolution in settling SGBV cases subverts justice – Group

A Civil Society Organisation (CSO), Stand to End Rape Initiative has called for the full implementation of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Law in states against Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) cases.

The group made the call during a Two Day Workshop on the implementation of the VAPP Law towards eradicating SGBV in Cross River.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the capacity-building workshop held on Thursday and Friday in Calabar was supported by the African Women Development Fund (AWOF).

Speaking on the training, the Lead Facilitator, Dr Sam Ogwuche said the objective was to take the participants through the dangers of GBV and to design an advocacy plan towards full implementation of the VAPP Law in Cross River.

According to Ogwuche who is a Research Fellow at the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies, the challenge of SGBV was biting hard on the society which was why Cross River’s legislature enacted the VAPP Law in 2021.

“What the states need now is a full implementation of the VAPP Law and not ADR because the use of ADR for SGBV cases negates the theories of punishment and is a high-level subversion of justice.

“It is time to abandon ADR in SGBV cases and allow justice to take its cause according to the provisions of the VAPP Law in the interest of a safe and just society,” he said.

On her part, Mrs Enyoanwan Otu, Wife of the Governor of Cross River said the battle against SGBV in the nation has been tough adding that many hide under culture and traditions to perpetuate evil.

VAPP Act: Alternative Dispute Resolution in settling SGBV cases subverts justice - Group

Otu who was represented by Dr Comfort Oko, Senior Special Adviser, Administration in the office of the wife of the governor said a number of things such as the culture of silence, stigmatisation, threats, and lack of political will among others weaken the fight against SGBV.

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She appealed for stakeholders and agencies responsible for the implementation of the VAPP Law to collaborate with agencies saddled with the responsibility of poverty alleviation to ensure economic power for survivors.

Similarly, Superintendent Philomena Modor, Officer in charge of Gender Unit, Cross River Police Command said that stakeholders in the state may be aware of the law but a lot of people in the public did not know about it.

She called for copies of the law to be made available to people in the society to enlighten them on its existence.

Another participant Ms Ann Awa, Chairperson Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Cross River Chapter, said it was good that funders were beginning to look beyond the adoption of the VAPP Law to implementation in states.

“This law is not meant to be on the shelves but with people even in rural areas where SGBV is constantly committed and perpetrators go scot-free,” she said.

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