The National Association of Seaogs (NAS), also known as the Pyrates Confraternity, has called on the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to consider launching a toll-free telephone line for reporting all forms of violence against women.
The group made the call in a letter written by its Port Harcourt Chapter Vice President Kennedy Barango to the Coordinator of the Port Harcourt office of the Commission.
“The National Association of Seadogs, Pyrates Confraternity is a registered Nigeria not-for-profit civil society organization with 60 branches in 4 continents. In the last 6 decades, our Association has deployed its vast professional membership and know-how towards supporting global improved health goals, access to education, public accountability and human rights.
“Our work on human rights in Rivers state for instance, includes providing legal assistance for awaiting trial inmates and advocating for improved correctional facility conditions. More recently, our Association is providing legal assistance to victims of police abuses with cases presented at the Rivers state Panel of Inquiry on Police abuses.
“We recognize and appreciate the critical role of the Commission as Nigeria’s national human rights body established to deal with matters relating to the promotion and protection of human rights and investigation of human rights violations. It is for this reason that we have deemed it appropriate to call your attention to an emergent and increasing pattern of abuses against women in particular.
“Violence against women is one of the most under-reported forms of human rights abuse in Nigeria. Investigations by our Association indicates that majority of the cases take the form of domestic violence by husbands against their spouses, but also of a sexual nature in work places, homes and public spaces. Because of the prevalent traditional consideration of women as properties of their husbands, and the stigma of being associated with sexual abuses, the majority of cases are never reported and their perpetrators are never prosecuted.
“The reality in Nigeria and most of sub Saharan Africa is that cases of violence against women are hardly reported. In many instances, acts of violence against women as serious as rape, are considered ‘family matters’ that should be resolved without the prosecution of the perpetrators. This approach not only provides abusers the opportunity to keep abusing others, but leaves the victims psychologically wrecked for life,” the group added.
Pyrates Confraternity lamented that human rights violations against women may have increased significantly on account of the Covid19 pandemic and the restrictions it engendered, according to reliable sources.
Referencing a foremost rights group, ActionAid Nigeria, the group said:
“Nigeria has seen an alarming increase in reported cases of rape and killings of women and girls as a result of the pandemic. Between March and June, we’ve documented 299 cases of violence against women and girls across seven states; 51 of these were sexual violence cases involving minors between the ages of 3 to 16. High profile killings like that of Tina Ezekwe who was shot by a trigger-happy police officer in Lagos, have traumatised the nation and led to country-wide protests and demonstrations.”
“The sad reality is that the current pandemic has thrown up and unraveled a silent and little talked-about pandemic in Nigeria- domestic and sexual gender based violence.
“Despite the prevalence and spread of this type of abuse, no structures have been established to address it in a manner that ensures improved reporting, investigation and prosecution,” the group lamented
The Pyrates Confraternity said it is for the above reasons that its Rivers State Chapter is requesting that the National Human Rights Commission sets up and popularize a dedicated toll-free telephone line to support victims of gender-based violence to report.
“We know that the Commission is willing to thoroughly investigate cases that come to it, but has been limited by the low level of reporting and willingness of victims to come forth. Our Association is willing to support the Commission in this regard.”
The National Association of Seadogs said it is offering to support the setting-up of a dedicated mobile toll-free telephone line for victims of abuses to report and seek justice.
“We are also committed to publicizing that reporting platform to ensure that victims have access to it and trust its efficacy. We strongly believe that this action will result in a significant reduction of cases of abuse, as well as prosecution of those who perpetrate these atrocities.
We look forward to collaborating.”