Gender Equality Bill Rejected Because Senators Feared It’ll Turn Women To Prostitutes, Lesbians – Abaribe

Enyinnaya AbaribeThe senator representing Abia South Senatorial District, Eyinnaya Abaribe, has revealed that the fear by some of his colleagues that the Gender Equal Opportunities Bill could give women unfettered freedom to engage in immoral activities, was behind their rejection of the bill.
The Bill, which was sponsored by Senator Biodun Olujimi (PDP, Ekiti) is aimed at among other purposes, giving equal access to education, strengthening of the laws on violence against Women, ending abduction of girls, sustenance and promotion of entrepreneurship opportunities, gender mainstreaming and gender equality, as well as female participation in governance.
Its rejection at second reading over a month ago by senators has continued to evoke widespread condemnations among women and some civil society organizations, with the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, assuring that it would be reintroduced.
Giving an insight into the psychology of some of the opponents of the bill in the upper legislative chamber, Mr. Abaribe said many senators were concerned that blanket freedom the bill would give women could lead to many of them ignoring their immediate responsibilities and turning to prostitutes and homosexuals.
He, however, urged the proponents of the bill to find a way of replacing some of its languages.
Mr. Abaribe spoke during a forum on political rights of women in Nigeria organised by the Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre (CIRDDOC) on Wednesday in Abuja.
“The bill was defeated at the second reading when its details were highlighted to the senators”, Mr. Abaribe said. “Some lawmakers started expressing deep worries about some parts of the bill that they think could give women too much freedom and lead them to prostitution, lesbianism and other social vices”.
He advised those behind the bill to make efforts at modifying some aspects of it in order to make it acceptable to all lawmakers for passage.
“The reason why we’re here is that we think that we should be able to restrategise, we should be able to look at the bill again and see those contentious areas we may need to modify. We should be able to find those critical constituencies within the senate that we must have to address.
“We should be able to look at the narrative of the bill and how it is being presented to the public and change that narrative and make it a positive narrative.
“For example, the bill is not a north versus south bill. The bill is not a Christian versus Muslim bill. The bill is not a male versus female bill. The bill simply seeks to extend to every Nigerian all the rights that are they should enjoy. And if women by virtue of our culture, by virtue of our historic antecedents are being behind, then we need to also drag them into the economy by giving them every right that they can use to be productive members of the society and that is all that we’re trying to do.
“It has been rejected but we’re talking to the senators who are supporting the bill to know how we could move forward. It’s not easy to say the bill can pass tomorrow, but we will continue to plead with other members for their support on this bill”.
Mr. Abaribe, who is a member of the Senate Constitutional Review Committee, also said the bill may need to be incorporated into the Constitution as part of the ongoing constitutional amendment process in the National Assembly.
“Since we’re doing constitutional review, I will advise that we find a way of putting this bill directly into the Constitution because if we just make it as part of electoral law, it could be challenged at the courts and get struck down”.

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