As part of efforts to ensure a holistic support for survivors of rape and other forms of Gender Based Violence (GBV), the Amnesty International has called on the federal government to upgrade the nation’s legal system.
The country director, Ms. Osai Ojigho who made the call in Abuja yesterday, during the release and public presentation of ‘The Survivor’s Guide’, a practical text for survivors of rape and other forms of sexual violence, said until survivors could feel comfortable to tell their stories, justice cannot be accomplished.
While educating members of the public on the need to use the term ‘survivors’ and not victims which she said further debases them, Ojigho lamented that the entire judicial system and fabric of the nation had failed the survivors.
“In as much as there’s the existence of the VAPP Act, there are still states that are yet to accept the need for its domestication. Moving forward, we are making a call to the government to as a matter of urgency, update the legal system. There has to be a human rights upgrade.
“Many people see issues of rape as simply women issues, but women issues are human issues. So until survivors can confidently speak and tell their stories before judges, we will continue to have cases of stigma and shame.
“Government needs to have enough and adequate facilities to accommodate complaints and cases of gender-based violence. We’ve realised that several that are in existence are not adequately functional.
“Survivors should be used and not victims. This further empowers them and encourages them to have some pride in themselves despite what has happened. The system often fails them and it’s difficult to get justice” she said.
In her speech, the Executive Director of Invictus Africa Ms. Bukky Shonibare said the release and distribution of the text was in commemoration of the ongoing 16 days of activism against gender based violence.
She said the guide was developed as part of an ongoing Prevention, Accountability and Support (PAS) project which was aimed at, “preventing sexual and gender based violence through capacity de, demanding accountability from duty bearers using empirical evidence, and providing support to survivors through access to relevant resources.
“With the survivors guide, we hope that survivors feel supported, and that the people who are in their lives also are provided with to language to truly support them and not further, knowingly or unknowingly, contribute to their trauma.”
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