Minister of Women’s Affairs, Pauline Tallen, has warned school administrators to desist from stigmatising victims of rape and other sexual and gender-based violence.
She said schools across the country should desist from expelling, shaming or ridiculing any girl-child pregnant due to rape as this could attract severe penalty.
Tallen gave the warning at an accountability town hall meeting with other ministers to commemorate the 16 days of activism to end violence against women and girls organised by the ministry in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning at the weekend in Abuja.
She said: “This meeting gives me the opportunity to send signals to tell all school administrators, public and private, to desist from the old practice of shaming, ridiculing or expelling a girl-child because she was raped and subsequently became pregnant.
“It is no longer acceptable. The girl is always a victim, while the male culprit is left off the hook. I am not supporting promiscuity. Education is a fundamental right of any child, especially the girl-child, which is top on my agenda,” she said.
Tallen said that the high record of violence against women and girls during the COVID-19 lockdown would be reduced if all states adopt and fully implement the Child Rights Act and the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPP).
The minister noted that only 16 states had so far passed the VAPP Act, while 25 adopted the Child Rights Act, calling others to adopt the legislations which would ensure perpetrators are prosecuted, as well as serve as deterrent to others.
Tallen also called on those in the entertainment industry to stop portraying women and girls as sex objects, but use their arts to advocate for positive behavioural change and end to all forms of violence
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said efforts were in place to scale up and develop new gender interventions through fiscal policy and public financial management to improve the livelihoods and economic status of women and girls to overcome the impact of COVID-19.
Ahmed said it was critical to scale up existing and develop new interventions such as gender responsive budgeting with specific commitment to improve the economic status of women and girls.
Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, said young girls form the centre of the ministry’s focus, particularly in areas of empowerment and human rights.