By G9ija

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has decried the increasing cases of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) in Nigeria, saying it received over 139,780 complaints between 2020 and March 2021.

NHRC Executive Secretary, Tony Ojukwu, stated this on Thursday in Abuja at an event to commemorate the 2021 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (IDEVW).

According to him, the theme of this year’s celebration, “Orange the World: End Violence Against Women Now!” is very apt as it resonates hope that reversing the trend of gender violence, particularly against women and girls is possible.

The chief human rights officer in the country explained that the increase in the number of SGBV in the last couple of years was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic which led to lockdown in several parts of the globe, including Nigeria.

When people are locked down, he said, there is a high tendency that their inert behaviour will manifest more, and this has been reflected in the remarkable surge in cases of SBGV in the country and probably elsewhere.

The NHRC boss, therefore, urged stakeholders to focus more attention on public education/awareness on SGBV and the implementation of extant laws and policies that would entrench the culture of accountability around gender issues.

He also appealed to Civil Society Organisations (CSO), traditional authorities, and religious leaders to be at the forefront in tackling the scourge of SGBV, saying more sensitisation was needed at the grassroots so that people would become more conscious of protecting and enforcing their rights and the consequences and punishments that await any culprit.

“The commission has carried out various programmes and activities, including holding public hearings in the six geopolitical zones of the country to address the upsurge of SGBV cases,” Ojukwu was quoted as saying in a statement by a spokesperson for the NHRC, Fatimah Mohammed.

“The 36 state offices of the NHRC and headquarters have continued to grapple with these cases on daily basis, and we can rightly say that there is hope of changing the ugly narratives.”

The 16 days of activism which starts on Thursday, culminating into December 10 – the International Human Rights Day – is a turning point towards addressing the SGBV scourge across the world, the statement said.

As part of the commission’s activities to mark the 16 days of activism, the human rights chief revealed that the NHRC state offices, including the Abuja metropolitan office were carrying out a series of activities such as advocacy visits to relevant stakeholders with the aim of reminding them of their role in curbing the scourge of the ugly trend.