WASHINGTON, D.C. — Every minute, an average of 24 individuals in the United States are the victims of physical abuse, stalking, or sexual assault at the hands of their intimate partners, with 35.6 percent of women in the U.S. experiencing some form of domestic violence in their lifetime. This October NOW observes Domestic Violence Awareness Month as a means to advocate for survivors and mobilize towards a future that puts an end to domestic violence once and for all.
Over the course of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed heinous truths about the ways in which domestic violence impacts women’s day to day lives. As millions sheltered in place, major hospitals across the country saw a surge in emergency care cases resulting from intimate partner violence (IPV). A number of factors including economic instability, lack of access to stable childcare, and social support, have been linked to IPV and these were only exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
IPV also has a disproportionate impact on marginalized groups. It is estimated that 37.5 percent of Native women have experienced IPV in their lifetime, with 29.1 percent of Black women, 23.4 percent of Latinas, and 41-60 percent of Asian and Pacific Islander women reporting the same. Black and Native women are at the greatest risk for IPV related homicide. Members of the LGBTQIA+ community are often left out of the conversation when we discuss domestic violence as well. Reports show that 43.8 percent of lesbian women and 61.1 percent of bisexual women experience some form of IPV in their lifetimes. Transgender women also disproportionately experience IPV and are most likely to experience domestic violence in a public space.
NOW has been at the forefront drafting and advocating for legislation like the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which aims to address domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment, and the many structural issues that allow for the abuse of women with limited consequences. Today, VAWA remains in the Senate graveyard. After expiring in December 2018 as a result of the government shutdown, the House of Representatives voted on its reauthorization in May 2019. Since then, the Senate has neglected to pick it up for a vote, leaving its reauthorization on the table for over a year and millions of survivors without support.
We need elected officials who will use their office and their influence to build a national culture and promote policies and services that censure this violence, hold perpetrators accountable, and bring justice and safety to survivors as they live, work and thrive. We must mobilize in an effort to elect a president and a Senate that support a true cultural change in November. If we do, VAWA will not only be reauthorized but improved, expanded, fully funded, and fully enforced so that survivors finally receive the support they deserve.
10/10/2020, 2:35 pm – +234 802 305 3834: No picture
10/10/2020, 2:35 pm – +234 802 305 3834: Belgium explores areas of economic cooperation with Nigeria
Belgian Honorary Consul in Lagos, Laurent Backx (left); MD/CEO, Nigeria Ports Authority, Ms Usman Bala; Belgian Ambassador to Nigeria, Daniel Bertrand; and Director, Political and Economic Affairs, Embassy of the Kingdom of Belgium in Nigeria, Stef Commers, during the ambassador’s visit to NPA, in Lagos.
The Belgian Embassy is currently exploring new areas of cooperation, to expand the existing bilateral relations between the European country and Nigeria.
The new Belgian Ambassador to Nigeria, Daniel Bertrand, disclosed his plans during a visit to Lagos.
Bertrand, during the four-day visit, paid a courtesy call to the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), and other relevant organisations.
He also met with the Belgian business community in Lagos, on how their expertise in key sectors could be leveraged to help Nigeria “explores its huge potential”.
The diplomat, who is a month-old in Nigeria, will also visit the Governor of Cross River State, Prof. Ben Ayade, to continue the discussion of his priorities and areas of mutual benefits.
Bertrand said Belgium would bring to bear its firm belief in an open economy and robust trade infrastructure in its renewed interest in Nigeria’s business environment.
He listed agriculture, infrastructure, and construction as areas Belgian companies have bet their stakes, noting that they could “do better in those sectors and many more” for the benefits of both the investors and Nigeria’s economy.
“We want to promote commerce and trade. We are genuinely interested in the country, and we will continue to look at how the two countries can continue to collaborate,” he said.
In December, Bertrand will open an Honorary Consulate in Lagos, to serve as a “meeting point” between the Belgian community in Lagos and Nigerians, who are interested in doing business with the country. The office, he added, will give directions to the trade relation template he is planning.
“It will serve as a meeting point and forum to discuss relevant issues regularly,” he said.
Bertrand, who was previously an envoy to Mali, said Belgian companies in Nigeria “have the potential to do better” than they are currently doing.
According to the Ambassador, Nigeria is not well known in Belgium, a reason he sees the consultation he has embarked upon as a very important starting point in his effort to promote the host country back home.
He continued: “Relationship is excellent from a political point of view. From the economic angle, we will continue to build the relationship. Belgian companies in Nigeria have a very good opinion about their Nigerian associates. The potential is here, and we need to go ahead. This is why I am here.
“The transformation of agriculture is important. Infrastructure, information communication technology (ICT), and construction have huge potential in Nigeria. These are some of the sectors, but I think it is too early to have a clear picture of the specifics. My part is to promote the opportunities to Belgium and Belgian companies.
Belgium has a tradition of doing good business in Nigeria. We will continue to build on that tradition.”