The United Nations Population Fund has handed over a renovated shelter for women and girls that are survivors of gender-based violence in Gombe State.
The shelter is expected to support and help the victims to recover from the trauma of violence mete on them, form networks, access support, as well as provide them with opportunities.
Speaking while unveiling the facility, the UNFPA representative in charge of the Kaduna Sub Office, Dr. Awoke Tasew-Tebeje, explained that the facility was renovated to provide succour for victims of GBV in the state.
He urged the state government to replicate the initiative across the 11 local government areas, in order to solve the needs of victims within their immediate environment.
Dr. Tasew-Tebeje disclosed that UNFPA works in three key areas – prevention, protection and provision of services.
He said, “We have to make sure there is no gender-based violence, but if it happens, this is a safe haven for victims and they will be connected with the legal system that will ensure perpetrators are brought to justice.
“They will be connected with the healthcare referral system and psycho-support services. Such services should be closer to the communities. Such shelter is better brought closer to the communities for victims to access its services. This should really be a model for other states.”
The wife of the governor, Asma’u Yahaya, who was represented by the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Naomi Awak, commended UNFPA country Representative, Ulla Mueller, for renovating the shelter for survivors of gender and sexual-based violence in the state.
She said, “Gender-based violence is a horrifying reality and a human rights violation of especially, women and girls, and has remained a big concern. It represents one of the manifestations of gross gender inequalities depriving girls and women of their fundamental human rights. This creates and sustains power imbalances that limit access to opportunities and resources, thus preventing girls and women from realising their rights and full potential.
“Many women and girls are at the mercy of their abusers, and this has grave consequences on their health and well-being. It is, therefore, important to have a place where women and girls can go to at any time to feel safe and empowered and have access to information, education, recreational activities, support and services.”
On her part, the Overseeing Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Asabe Malami, promised that the shelter would be used for the reasons it was established.
She urged residents to support the victims, adding, “Whatever you have, you can bring it as a gift to the shelter. We can all do it, we are all government.”
Recall that in December 2021, PUNCH Healthwise reported that GBV was on the increase in the state.
The publication was based on an alarm raised by an alliance of 22 civil society organisations under the aegis of the VAPP Alliance.
The organization decried the increasing rate of gender-based violence in the state, noting that it thrived due to lack of stiff penalties to prosecute cases.
The Coordinator, Dudu Manuga, noted that no fewer than 83 cases were reported in May, based on statistics gathered from the Gombe State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.
It is worth noting that Gombe is among the states that are yet to domesticate the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, and based on a document obtained by our correspondent, over 371 cases were recorded from May to November.
Manuga brought attention to the issue during the commemoration of the International Day of Human Rights and the end of the 16 days of activism with the theme ‘Orange the world: End violence against women now’, which was organised with support from Education as a Vaccine.
She explained that GBV is not about rape only, stressing that it cuts across different other forms of violence that include domestic violence, sexual harassment, sexual intimidation, abandonment and denial of inheritance based on gender, among others.
Manuga lamented the failure of Gombe State to join the league of states with enabling laws and said, “Imagine having up to 80 reported cases in one month and in another month, up to 83. Remember that many more are not reported.”