Gov. Ben Ayade of Cross River on Wednesday told women in the state that being married was not a special qualification in womanhood as believed in some quarters.
Ayade made the assertion during the one kilometre walk in Calabar to commemorate this year’s “16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence (GBV)” in the state.
The walk took place from Cultural Centre Calabar to the premises of the state Ministry of Women Affairs.
The 16 Days of Activism is an annual event organised between Nov. 25 and Dec. 10 to raise awareness on GBV and harmful practices against women and girls in the state.
The theme of this year’s event is: “Orange the World: Leave No One Behind, End Violence against Women and Girls.”
Ayade, represented by Ms. Tina Agbor, Secretary to the State Government(SSG), said society made women believe that marriage was a special qualification, making many of them to submit themselves to be hurt.
“Because the society has told you that for you to be a complete woman, you have to be married, many women are holding on to very wrong and abusive relationships.
“As a woman, you must add value to yourself for the men to respect you because when you reduce yourself to nothing, the men will kick you around.
“As a girl in the university, study hard and no one will take advantage of you because they know that you are worth your onions.
“Some of the university girls that say they were sexually molested are dullards who visit lecturers privately to beg for marks,” he said.
Ayade said while society was now preaching against GBV, women must refuse to be put down, adding that they could only be their own limitations.
Similarly, Ms Ann Awa, Chairperson, International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Cross River Chapter, said the state needed a well-equipped one-stop-shop where survivors of GBV could get adequate help.
Awa called on the state government to domesticate the Violence Against Person Prohibition (VAPP) Act.
She also appealed to the people of the state to report any act of GBV because, according to her, the life of a woman was more important than the ring on her finger.
On her part, Dr Bassey Nakanada, Chairperson, Medical Women Association of Nigeria (MWAN), Cross River branch, appealed to government agencies and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to help in collation of data to make it easier for planning.
Represented by Dr Helen Unuareokpa, Nakanda added that MWAN was a major stakeholder in the fight against GBV while encouraging everyone to be part of the process to stamp out violence from the society.
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