Response to violence against women and girls (VAWG) remains extremely inadequate and barriers to reporting such assaults often make it hard for victims to seek legal redress. Therefore, when a programme like the Spotlight initiative addresses VAWG in Nigeria, it is important to highlight their work, writes Anthonia Obokoh for Nigeria Health Watch.
Spotlight Initiative in Nigeria began implementation in January 2019 with the aim of achieving a country where all women and girls, particularly the most vulnerable, live a life free from violence and harmful practices. This vision is being realized by addressing the root causes of gender-based violence and harmful practices, such as child marriage and female genital mutilation, and ensuring access to inclusive, timely, and quality services for victims and survivors. It is currently being implemented in Adamawa, Cross River, Ebonyi, Lagos, and Sokoto States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Based on World Health Organisation estimates, one in three women are subjected to physical or sexual violence. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, reports have shown that all types of violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, has intensified. A UN Women report calls it the ‘Shadow Pandemic’. The most common acts of violence against women in Nigeria include sexual harassment, physical violence, harmful traditional practices, emotional and psychological violence, socio-economic violence, and violence against non-combatant women in conflict situations.