Stories by Stanley Onyekwere
Worried by increasing rate of gender-based violence against women, the authorities of Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) has read strong riot act against the menace particularly in workplaces.
The Council specifically warned that anyone caught harassing any female staff sexually here in the Council shall be sanctioned
and handed over to relevant law enforcement agency for appropriate penalty.
Also, the Council encouraged all AMAC female staff to be bold and report any case of sexual harassment, intimidation, victimization or any form of abuse whatsoever without fear to the Authority and such cases shall be taken up.
Making this assertion, the AMAC Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu Candido, noted that women must be made to be aware of their fundamental rights and be able to speak up when these rights are being trampled upon.
He decried that sexual harassment at the work place among the common forms of violence against women in Nigeria and across the World, and it is unfortunately under reported, partly due to some factors such as ignorance of fundamental rights, poverty, intimidation, fear of victimization among others.
Candido spoke through the Council’s Secretary, Mrs. Ramat Abdullahi, during an awareness programme on gender Based Violence at the work place, Abuja.
According to him, “We are all advocating for women participation in societal development. And if women must make their contributions in the
advancement of the society, then they must be allowed to do so, and be protected in the process from any form of intimidation, violence and harassment.
“Violence against women has become prevalent all over the world. It is high time everyone rises up against this menace. Most women are silent when their rights are being infringed on especially when it has to do with rapes and assaults, they either are afraid of stigmatization, victimization and attacks.
“What we are doing here today therefore, is to step down this awareness to our people here in the Council especially as it relates to sexual harassment at the work place.
“This Campaign however is a call to all our female genders to mount up courage to stand against any form of violence as well as an appeal to the rest of us to rise up to defend these vulnerable members of our society whose contributions are equaly relevant in our national growth and development
“We have heard of cases of sexual harassment at the work places but here in the Council, we can say such illicit activity has not been reported.
“However, as we join the rest of the World to condemn this act, we are making it known this day, that anyone caught harassing any female staff sexually here in the Council shall be sanctioned and handed over to relevant law enforcement agency for appropriate penalty.”
Similarly, Special Adverser on I.C.T to, AMAC, Abiodun Essiet explained that the Council started the awareness campaign with selected women from the major area councils that will take the campaign to the grass roots and sensitise others.
Essiet said women must be made to be aware of their fundamental rights and be able to speak up when these rights are being trampled upon, adding that they advocate for women participation in societal development of the society, then they must be allowed to do so and be protected in the process from any form of intimidation, violence and harassment.
In her remarks, Ms Christine Warioba, representative of the UN Women, congratulated the council for organising the programme.
She added that such awareness campaigns must be taken to people at the grassroots, so as to end the escalating cases of violence against women.
Our correspondent reports that the epoch making event had women representatives drawn from AMAC, Gwagwalada, Kuje, Kwali and Bwari Area Councils and international partners such as ActionAid and UN Women.