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Christian Leaders in Nigeria Condemn Gender-based Violence, Call for “collective action”

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Christian leaders in Nigeria have expressed their condemnation of gender-based violence and called for “collective action” to end the vice that seems to target women and girls.

“The abuse of the girl child and the vulnerable must no longer continue in our own time,” the National President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Samson Ayokunle, said Tuesday, September 7.

The CAN President who was speaking at the close of their two-day Northern traditional and religious leaders’ summit on ending gender-based violence and harmful practices underscored the need to end violence based on gender “in all its forms … for our country to progress.”

“All forms of Gender-Based Violence are appalling in the 21st century. We should all rise up together to eradicate them,” Rev. Ayokunle said at the end of the summit that was organized by the Sultan Foundation for Peace and Development in Abuja.

He added, “Our society will be better through our collective action in this direction.”

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Male parents and faith leaders need to live up to their roles as custodians of custom, tradition, and faith in safeguarding the rights of women and girls, the Nigerian Christian leader said.

Also speaking at the September 7 event, the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Muhammadu Sa'ad Abubakar, emphasized the need for the government to go beyond the enactment of laws and strengthen awareness around Gender-Based Violence.

“Everyone should understand that violence against women and girls is unacceptable and will no longer be tolerated,” the Muslim leader said.

He went on to suggest, “Government at the community level should put in place a sex offender register to name and shame perpetrators and end the impunity around Gender-based Violence.”

“Government should also establish and fund at least one GBV response center and shelter with government-paid staff deployed and with effective linkages to other support services that survivors may need,” the Sultan said.

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He also urged the Nigerian government to “establish at least one forensic lab in each geopolitical zone in the country to support the prosecution of GBV cases.”

On his part, Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, urged “all stakeholders to take practical steps to protect the vulnerable population, especially women and girls.”

“People use religion to commit all sorts of evil things, but the two religions of Christianity and Islam condemn violence against women,” the Vice President said.

Addressing himself to the Northern traditional rulers and faith leaders, Osinbajo said, “You are the custodians of the society and highly respected in your communities.”

“So, if you want to take action against perpetrators of violence against women and girls, we can have a better society and achieve the greater results in addressing the menace of Gender-Based Violence that is before us,” the Nigerian leader added.

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