A bill for domestication of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act has scaled through third reading in the Imo House of Assembly.
The bill, sponsored by Mrs. Uju Onwudiwe (Njaba constituency), passed the third reading during plenary session on Tuesday.
Speaking to journalists after the session, Onwudiwe expressed delight over passage of the bill, adding that it would become law when the governor accented to it.
She said her decision to sponsor the bill was borne out of the desire to stem the tide of girl-child abuse and seek justice for victims of abuse.
She thanked other legislators “for being part of the making of history” and expressed confidence that Imo would soon join the list of states that had domesticated the Act, passed since 2015 to protect the rights of persons against violence, especially women and girls.
She thanked Governor Hope Uzodimma “for his gender-friendly style of leadership” and pledged continued support for initiatives that would checkmate violence against girls and women.
She said, “it is regrettable that our forefathers believed that girls whose genitals were not mutilated will end up wayward; that is a wrong notion and it forms part of what we want to correct with the domestication of the VAPP Act in Imo.
“The Ninth Assembly is one with a human conscience and I thank my colleagues for their various contributions.”
The Commissioner for Women Affairs and Vulnerable Groups, Mrs Nkechi Ugwu, thanked the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the the National Orientation Agency (NOA) for their advocacy efforts.
She called for continued advocacy and enlightenment by relevant government agencies and Non Governmental Organisations.
This, she said, would be necessary to consolidate on the gains of the Act when it eventually got domesticated.
She also thanked the governor’s wife, Mrs Chioma Uzodimma, for supporting the passage of the bill and assured that a Sexual Assault Referral Centre would soon be established in the state.
“We must be consistent in awareness creation about the dangers of all forms of violence against women and girls so as to sustain the gains of these efforts.
“I urge relevant stakeholders to aim at increased awareness, especially at the grassroots, as this will go a long way to stem the tide,” she said.