The senator representing Abia South Senatorial District, Eyinnaya Abaribe has stated that the Senate of Nigeria’s National Assembly rejected the Gender Equal Opportunities Bill because some senators feared the legislation could make women engage in immoral activities.
Speaking during a forum on the political rights of women in Nigeria organised by the Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre (CIRDDOC) in Abuja on Wednesday, senator Abaribe said many legislators were worried about “too much freedom” it would give to women to engage in “social vices” including “lesbianism” and “prostitution”.
He also said that although the bill had suffered setback, it could still be amended and re-introduced to give every Nigerian the rights they deserve.
He said: “The bill was defeated at the second reading when its details were highlighted to the senators.”
“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.”
Abaribe called on all those championing 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.
“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.”