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Today, Women’s Right is commonly discussed amongst middle class women. This elitist group is sometimes referred to as feminists, women Rights advocates or gender parity advocates. Their aim is to peacefully address chauvinistic tendencies of patriarchal parochial societies.
  The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) is one of such organisations. Its’ mission is to protect, promote and preserve the rights of women and children. It also renders voluntary and humanitarian services through free legal services to the indigent citizens, particularly women and children in the society.
  Last week in Abuja, FIDA organised a three-day event on ‘‘Strengthening the Nigerian Legal Framework for the Effective Prosecution of Gender Based Violence.’’ Gender-based violence includes acts of violence in the form of physical, psychological, or sexual violence, verbal, emotional, or economic harm against a person specifically because of his or her gender.
  Violation of women’s Rights manifest in some traditional behaviour, attitudes or practices, which negatively affect the fundamental rights of women, girls, and includes harmful widowhood practices, denial of inheritance or succession rights, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, forced isolation, rape, sexual assault, and domestic violence including trafficking in women, and forced prostitution.
  It has been observed that the major cause of lack of prosecution for gender-based violence offences, stem from the ignorance of the victim to report to the appropriate authorities. Women are often reluctant to use legal remedies [for reasons such as:] they do not believe that they are entitled to protection ... they are afraid of additional violence from the perpetrator ... they are pressured to avoid bringing “shame” upon their family, or ... [where the perpetrator is a family member,] jailing the perpetrator [may] cut off the family’s economic support.
  Besides, support for new laws has often been low among the police, the judiciary and the general public, especially when laws counter long-standing traditions of discrimination against women. Early this year, The Nigeria Senate blocked a bill seeking the Abolition of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in Nigeria.
  Governments are legally obligated to address the problem of gender based violence and other forms of women’s Rights violation through a range of measures guaranteed under a constitution, statute or case law. The inadequacies in some of the legislations make prosecution ineffective. Some legislation do not clearly define key elements of gender-based violent crimes to reduce the potential for abuse of judicial discretion. 
  Clear explanations of key concepts, like “consent” and “penetration”, are essential to the uniform application of laws against gender-based violence.   Legislation should also provide clear standards of proof to protect the rights of both the victim and the accused. Marital rape is a form of gender-based violence condemned in the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Marriage as a defence of rape should be abolished. The abolishment of this defence should be clear on the face of the legislation.
  Culturally sensitive awareness campaigns directed at both men and women are an essential component of long-term solutions to violence against women. Local governments, national agencies, traditional rulers and NGOs should coordinate efforts to educate all community members about the definition and consequences of rape, sexual assault, and domestic violence.
   FIDA should challenge social structures of male domination in addition to improving the situation of women within the societal framework of subordination of women to men. The theme of this year FIDA conference and FIDA commitment in protecting women’s Right is commendable. (Next week, Lawclinic would dwell on domestic and international instruments for protection of gender-based Rights violation.) Lawclinic congratulates FIDA for their numerous achievements.
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