A non-governmental organisation, Civil Resources Development and Documentation Centre (CIRDDOC), held a ‘tribunal’ recently in Abuja; in a bid to increase public awareness on the pressing need to domesticate the legislature signed and ratified Convention and the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Maputo Protocol. In simpler terms, to improve the rights of women in Nigeria.
While said tribunals are not legal proceedings and do not have the power to enforce recommendations, they have been known to effect significant changes especially in attitudes and policies concerning women.
By having victims of violations of human rights speak publicly, they aim to attract condemnation of the violations from well-meaning people.
The tribunal yesterday heard testimonies of survivors of violence, domestic violence and political violence, including a sad case of a 14-year-old girl impregnated by a man old enough to be her father, in one of the South-Eastern States. In line with the tradition of her community, the girl is being forced to marry the man.
Also, testimonies included a victim of genital mutilation who struggled to hold back tears, recalling her experience.
CIRDDOC, in collaboration with Affirmative Action Initiative for Women (NCAA) hopes to secure a legal framework to promote gender equality and the Gender and Equal Opportunities (GEO) bill.
While the tribunal consisted of three different panels, Panel on Violence Against Women and harmful traditional practices had the audible voice by the revelations of the testifiers whose account of violations were most notable.