The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and a group, My Take Initiative, have drawn a link between poverty and the escalation of rights violation and violence against women.
They drew the link at a meeting of the United Nations Non-Government Organisation Committee on the Status of Women (UN NGOCSW) in Abuja on Friday.
The event tagged, ‘interconnectedness between poverty and other societal ills, in the context of climate change’, was the 66th UN commission on the status of women.
The Executive Secretary of NHRC, Tony Ojukwu, who was represented by his special adviser on human rights, Hilary Ogbonna, said Nigeria was among the top three countries with the highest number of poor people.
He noted that the notion of human rights is based on dignity, adding that poverty is an assault on that dignity.
“Where there is poverty, there is no dignity and where there is no dignity, there are no human rights,” he said.
He added that poverty is usually caused by human right violation most of which are caused by the government.
“All the human resources that are supposed to empower individuals are not accessible or within the fundamental human rights. Privatisation of basic amenities is another factor that is deepening poverty,” he added.
He also noted that when people are jobless, women especially, are sometimes left with no other option than to go into prostitution with their bodies just to survive and as a result end up in a worse situation.
“These women if arrested face rape and other violations in detention because prostitution is a crime in Nigeria”, Mr Ojukwu stated.
Mr Ojukwu cited the UN guidelines on poverty eradication in highlighting solutions to the problems. He said poverty eradication programme must include coherent policies and “constitutionalisation of social and economic rights”, among other steps.
He added that states must ensure that facilities, goods and services required for the enjoyment of human rights are accessible, adaptable, affordable and of good quality.
He said Nigeria’s major target to eradicating poverty is the implementation of anti-poverty strategy that would recognise the international development target to which Nigeria has already subscribed to.
Poverty and violence against women
The executive director of My Take Initiative, Rosemary Chikwendu, said its organisation’s investigation into violence against women and children showed that the injustices meted to women are interconnected with poverty and other societal ills.
“Women find it difficult to leave abusive relationships or marriages for the fear of poverty and sole responsibilities of taking care of their children,” Mrs Chikwendu said.
She added that most women rely on agriculture and farming for livelihood, but that climate change is now leaving them with little or no means of livelihood.
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