Stop discrimination against women, Amnesty International tells National Assembly
Amnesty International has called on the National Assembly to ensure the speedy passage of the Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill.
In a statement on Wednesday, the International Women’s Day, AI said over 30 years after Nigeria ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women, women still experience various forms of discrimination in law and practice.
Although it noted that Nigeria ratified CEDAW in 1985, and ratified the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Women’s Protocol) in 2004, it said they had yet to be domesticated.
It added, “The two treaties contain vital provisions that will protect women from discrimination and ensure they live with dignity and fully enjoy their human rights.
“Attempts to incorporate these treaties into domestic law continue to generate public and parliamentary debates.
“Earlier attempts were defeated by strong opposition; some legislators, religious groups and leaders have argued that the provisions would erode local customs and religious beliefs. Yet, some of the customs and practices in question have already been invalidated by Nigerian Courts.”
According to AI, the domestication of the treaties will strengthen the prohibition of gender-based discrimination, already enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution.”
It expressed the hope that the GEO Bill would finally be passed by the National Assembly.
On the importance of the bill, it said it had the aim of securing much needed freedoms and rights for women, so that women and girls may, for example, “exercise their right to be free from discrimination and be able to enjoy their rights to education, healthcare and to own property without barriers and exclusions because of their gender”.
“Passing the GEO Bill into law will provide a firm legal basis to render void existing laws, policies and practices which discriminate against women,” it added.
“Examples of these include customary practices that preclude women from inheritance; Section 55 of the 1990 Labour Act of Nigeria which bars women from being employed in night work, except as nurses; and Section 360 of the Criminal Code Act which makes the indecent assault of a woman a misdemeanour punishable with a two year prison term, as opposed to the three years prison term imposed for indecently assaulting a man, which is a felony in section 353.”