Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, 2015, Nigeria
In one of his final acts in office, President Goodluck Jonathan recorded a milestone by signing into law the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, 2015 (VAPP). In doing so, he capped 14 years of social and legislative advocacy aimed toward passage of the law. This synopsis, written by the Women’s Aid Collective (WACOL), explains in layman terms exactly what is punishable under this law, who it is designed to protect, what provisions are contained in the law for victims, what needs to happen next, and finally, some examples of the work undertaken by WACOL in their advocacy for the Act. The VAPP Act is commendably comprehensive, and covers most of the prevalent forms of violence that could be categorised into: physical violence; psychological violence; sexual violence; harmful cultural practices; and socio-cultural economic violence.
Specific examples of actions whose prohibition has been strengthened or introduced include rape, female genital mutilation, harmful widowhood practices, partner battery, stalking, and violence by state actors, among others. Additionally, the VAPP Act includes provision for protection orders for victims and persons under threat of violence, a right to access to medical, social, psychological, and legal assistance, and compensation for victims. This should lead to better services for victims, including hot-lines, shelter, advice, counselling, and physical and mental health services. The establishment of a public register for sexual offenders is also provided for. WACOL note that the next step is to ensure replication across state jurisdictions; given the nature of Nigeria’s federal system, the law is currently limited in its application to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.