Kaduna state government is set to prioritise the protection of women and girls under existing laws, in order to curb the spate of indiscriminate violations of their bodies, a senior official of Governor Nasir El-Rufai said at the launch of the 2021 State of the World Population Report, a flagship of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
The report, which has been published periodically since 1978, brings to the public domain, deep research on topical issues that are affecting population and development across the world.
The chief of staff to the governor, Mr Sani Dattijo on Wednesday described the report as “timely” noting that this year’s theme calls the attention of global leaders, policy makers, parliaments and all stakeholders to the infringement of body rights of half of the world’s population made up of women and girls.
“In matters related to reproduction and sexuality, bodily autonomy means women and girls determine their lives and their future and should have the information and means to do so, free from discrimination, coercion and violence,” Dattijo said.
He noted that the government will focus on effectively addressing the rising needs of the population of Kaduna state in the current report, particularly a number of disturbing issues which it contained.
“There are of course cultural and religious sensitivities that are contained within this report – it is a global report that also carries the consent of other countries and what they term as important. But it is up to us to really prioritise what we feel are the most important development and population issues in Kaduna state, areas that do not go against existing laws of our country,” he said.
Dattijo disclosed that immediate action will be taken by relevant agencies in close collaboration with the planning and budget commission to study the report side by side, with emerging data and provide the government through council a clear path, towards the implementation of the areas that are particularly important to the people of Kaduna state.
“You can see that when we talk about these issues, it is not one size fits all – it is my belief that policy makers, lawmakers and all duty bearers will provide the needed support to implement key recommendations in the report,” he said.
Issues of major concern contained in the General Household Survey by Kaduna Bureau of Statistics bordered on child marriages, genital mutilation and domestic violence.
According to the report, over 38 per cent of girls in Soba Local Government Area of the state get married before the age of 15, while over 30 per cent of girls in Kubau and Kudan LGAs were also married off before they turn 15 years.
At the zonal level, over 32 per cent of girls are married off before age 15 in Kaduna North Senatorial Zone, 15 per cent in Kaduna Central and 17 per cent in Kaduna South.
The survey equally shows 49 per cent prevalence of female genital mutilation in Makarfi LGA and 34 per cent in Giwa LGA.
In the area of domestic violence, 73 per cent of women in Birnin Gwari LGA and 0.4 per cent in Zaria LGA felt it was normal for a man to beat a woman.
Dattijo assured that relevant ministries, departments and agencies, particularly the Ministry of Health, Human Services and Social Development and PBC will study the report closely and provide a clear implementation plan for some of the recommendations.
The Governor’s CoS further urged traditional and religious leaders, as well as influential groups in various communities to champion the conversation on achieving bodily autonomy.