On behalf of Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR) we would like to express appreciation to the House of Assembly of Imo State for passing the “Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Bill, 2011” and enacting it as a law to eliminate violence in private and public life, prohibit all forms of violence including physical, sexual, psychological, domestic, harmful traditional practices; discrimination against persons and to provide maximum protection and effective remedies for victims and punishment of offenders.

We congratulate the Nigeria SRHR movement for pushing for it and the Imo State House of Assembly with its successful enactment. This victory is an advance for women not only in Imo state, but in Nigeria as a whole, as it guarantees women’s rights to enjoy the highest level of physical, mental and social well-being, health care services, including those related to full access to modern contraceptive methods, adequate health care facilities, information and counseling; they shall have the right to exercise their reproductive choice; and enjoy their reproductive rights including the right to safe and legal abortion.

As a global network representing over one thousand organisations and individuals from seventy three countries, working toward the fulfilment of sexual and reproductive rights for all, with a specific focus on the rights of women and girls to have access to safe and legal abortion; and drawing attention to the vital connections between elimination of violence against women and their ability to exercise the sexual and reproductive rights without fear of violence and coercion;

WGNRR takes the stand to support the “Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) law” of Imo State as it affirms the protection of reproductive rights of women in accordance to the international human rights laws (CEDAW art 16 and Maputo protocol article 12).

Keeping this important victory in mind, WGNRR would like to echo his vigilance in the implementation of the law. We wish to remind the Imo State officials that any law without efficient implementation and accountability mechanisms it remains a dead letter.

We therefore recommend the Imo state to:

  • Efficiently monitor and supervise the implementation of the provisions of the act;
  • Ensure that health care and health systems are equipped with necessary knowledge, equipment and resources to provide abortion services as enshrined in the law;
  • Ensure that religious institutions and groups do not influence the state’s judicial, policy and programming efforts in relation to reproductive rights. The sexual and reproductive rights and dignity of all must be guaranteed, not subject to constraints imposed by religious authorities.
  • Provide comprehensive and youth friendly information about the law to entire population, without discrimination, and take steps to limit the misinformation relating to the law and any stigma women may face when seeking abortion services under on the grounds authorized by the law.
  • Remove all social-cultural, economic and implementation barriers to ensure access to safe, comprehensive, free and of high quality abortion procedure, free of requirements for marital or parental consent
  • Ensure universal access to information on contraception, including emergency contraception, of high quality and variety, user friendly and appropriate to the needs of girls, adolescents and women, while ensuring their confidentiality.
  • Encourage others States in Nigeria and countries in Africa to review their laws and policies to advance on women and girls right to SRHR, including access to safe and legal abortion.