The Federal Government has been urged to domesticate all international and regional legal frameworks which promote Women’s Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (WSRH&R).
Partipants at the just-concluded three-day media training on Women’s Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights/Global Gag Rule (GGR) held in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, made the call in a communique.
The workshop which was organized by an NGO, lpas Nigeria which focuses on expanding access to safe abortion and contraceptive care, featured editors and reporters from selected media including Persecondnews.
The communique was signed by Country Director of Ipas, Mr Lucky Palmer.
The journalists noted that Nigeria has continued to record a rise in sexual violence, including rape and incest.
They expressed worry that sexual violence was contributing to cases of unwanted pregnancies particularly among young females in the country.
“Unwanted pregnancies have resulted in to people seeking unsafe abortion procedure, which is one of the leading causes of maternal mortality in the country.
“Although the Nigerian government has signed and ratified many international and regional legal instruments that protect the sexual rights and human rights of women, many of these frameworks have yet to be domesticated,” Persecondnews quotes from the statement.
GGR known as the Mexico City Policy, is a United States Government policy that blocks U.S. federal funding for non-governmental organisations that provide abortion counselling or referrals, advocate to decriminalise abortion, or expand abortion services.
The communique also notes that some NGOs working to promote Women’s Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (WSRH&R) in the country were unaware of the exceptions to GGR and they do not provide abortion, counselling, referrals to clinics in cases of pregnancies from rape, incest and when the woman’s life is endangered.
According to the media professionals, the only legal document on abortion in Nigeria is the 1861 Abortion Law.
They called for a review of the law and advised government at all levels to take the health, rights and welfare of women seriously and also increase funding for WSRH&R and the health sector.
It states: “Nigerians, including the media, should join the global campaign against GGR.
“Rigorous awareness should be created on the exceptions to the GGR, to enable CSOs provide services to victims of unwanted pregnancies as a result of rape and incest among other exceptions.
“The participants also resolved that the government should provide free medical care and support for women and girls who are victims of sexual violence to preserve, promote and protect their sexual and reproductive health.
“Focus should not only be centred on the executive arm of government but also on the legislature, to ensure they make legislations that promote and protect women’s health and rights.”
Facilitators at the weeklong programme included the Country Director, Dr Lemadoro Steven, consultant gynecologist/obstetrician, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, a lawyer, Mrs Doris Ikpeze of lpas and a veteran media professional and trainer.