LAWS AGAINST GENDER BASED VIOLENCE IN NIGERIA
UNDERSTANDING THE EFFECTS OF THE VAPP LAW
The effects of gender based violence cannot be under emphasised. This is because the attendant consequences of gender based violence in the family, community and even the country as a whole, is devastating. Many times than not, the families of victims are too scared to seek recourse from law. Worse still, more are ignorant of the various laws put in place by the Judiciary to govern and check the actions of predators.
Aside laws set by international bodies like WHO, UNICEF and UN to govern and clampdown on the prevalence of gender based violence, there are other laws that are set in place by various nations to govern against gender based violence. While it is true that many families are not aware of these laws it does not in any way negate the fact that these laws are working actively to ensure that their purpose is fulfilled.
Nigeria as a country has 36 States with its capital at Abuja. In 2014, it passed into law the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law which sole purpose is to ensure that violence against persons by reason of gender or other circumstances are being tackled. The VAPP law is now been passed into the law of other states of the federation including the FCT. Bayelsa state in particular through the help of FIDA passed the VAPP law into their state a few months ago.
The VAPP law does not only criminalises the rape of women but also recognises the rape of men. It has made it almost impossible for people to claim that the crime of rape was not committed because there was no penetration. The VAPP law states that the use of other parts of the body including the hand or any other instruments to penetrate into any hole in the body of the victim is classified as rape. This is indeed a great legal invention that properly covers the purview of both the Criminal Law and Penal Code.
This same law kicks vehemently against persons who opt for “settlement” which refers to financial remuneration for the criminal offence of rape and criminalises the act. This provides for jail terms for all parties involved in the settlement matter. This stipulation hopes to curb the culture of Nigerians receiving money over justice for victims which allows predators to walk around free to prey on others.
The VAPP law is indeed a powerful tool that can be wielded to win the war against gender based violence. Other bills are now being set in motion by various governmental and non-governmental bodies to support the fight against Gender Based Violence. This is to ensure that this dastard act in all its facets is swiftly punished so that the victims may have a chance at life without feeling scared of the threat of their predators. However powerful and useful the VAPP act may seem, some states in the federation are yet to adopt it.