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LAW REVIEW COMMITTEE

Again we use our outreaches to sensitize the public about some values and practices in our society which are hostile to women. We seek ways of eliminating such practices. One of the ways we have found is to seek review of the laws concerning women. For example, there are Laws established for the protection of women but they are so generic that they are practically ineffective. In particular, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, section 24 C and E includes the following duties for the citizen of Nigeria..

“It shall be the duty of every citizen to”

(c)
Respect the dignity of other citizens and rights and legitimate interest of others and live in harmony and in the spirit of common brotherhood;
 
(e)

Render assistance to appropriate and lawful agencies in the maintenance of law and order.

This law guarantees respect for the dignity and legitimate interest of citizens including Christian women. It further mandates citizens, all stake holders and Legal institutions to ensure the respect of others. Yet you find that citizens will never report when a woman is being endangered and if it happens to be by a spouse, the police would not even interfere.

Also, the African Charter on Human and People Rights provide in article 4

“Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and integrity of his person” and

 
Article 27
 

The rights and freedoms of each individual shall be exercised with due regard to the rights of others, collective security, morality and common interest.

Nigeria is a signatory to the African Charter. We have no specific laws to enforce this provision. We also have the UN Charter on Human Rights 37th Session of the United Nations Convention against Torture and other Cruel, inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment held in 2006. This Session in item 23 recommended that members adopt:

“All necessary measures to prevent combat and punish violence against women and children and reinforce its cooperation with civil society organizations in combating such violence. The state party should also undertake research into the root causes of the high incidence of rape and sexual violence so that effective preventive measures can be developed; establish awareness-raising campaigns; investigate thoroughly those grave human rights violations; and work towards a “ no tolerance” policy.

The convention further mandated that every nation should entrench specific offences on torture into its local laws. The convention regretted that even after many years, member states do not have clear-cut legal provisions in their domestic legislations to ensure that absolute prohibition of torture is achieved.

In CWIC we do not only talk about this, we are working on ways to ensure enforcement of these laws. First laws should be clearer and better articulated to define specific acts or omissions that border on women oppression and torture. For example, how do we enforce punishment for bigamy? We believe that improvement should be made as follows:

 
1. It shall be a criminal offence to know or be in a position to know about oppression and torture and not report to the police.  
2. It shall be an offence against a police officer not to take up cases bordering on women oppression and torture.  
3. A boss or chief executive should be held responsible for acts/omission amounting to sexual abuse, women oppression and torture and such acts or omissions shall be clearly defined.  
     
  CWIC attempts to review the situation for better results.