Fidelis David in Akure,
Ondo State Government, in conjunction with Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) yesterday launched the braille version of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAAP) Law in the state.
Braille is a system of touch reading and writing for blind persons in which raised dots represent the letters of the alphabet.
Speaking at the event, the Country Director of WFD, Mr. Adebowale Olorunmola, said the gathering was to sensitise PWDs and sensitive them on the VAPP law.
According to him, about 15 percent of Nigeria’s population, or at least 25 million people, have a disability, many of them face a number of human rights abuses including stigma, discrimination, violence among others.
His words: “WFD is partnering with OSAA-GBV to support the implementation of the VAPP law which is to ensure that every single individual regardless of status in the society is not violated, to protect all of us, particularly the most vulnerable and when we are talking about the most vulnerable, we are not only talking about minors, but we are also speaking of persons with disabilities.
“And there is no way therefore, we will continue the implementation of the law without carrying every single person along, including PWDs and that is why we are having the launching of this braille.
“WFD is an organisation that was founded in the UK, 30 years ago to strengthen democracy around the world. We thought there is need to have VAPP law, so that our brothers and sisters who are virtually impaired can also understand the content of the law and will be able to work as survivors or instrument to get justice.
“So, what we are saying in essence is that the law will only be useful when all of us understand the content of the law, because it is meant to protect us as an instrument to seek justice,” Olorunmola stressed.
The country Director noted that the VAPP law prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability and imposes sanctions including fines and prison sentences on those who contravene it.
Olorunmola added that the sensitisation and launch of braille version of the law was to build on previous activities of supporting the state government to deepen the implementation of the VAAP Law and Child Right Protection Policy of the State.
In her keynote address, the Wife of Ondo State Governor, Mrs. Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, represented by Mrs. Ngozi Okoro, said it was important for PWDs to be familiar with the law signed into law by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State in 2021, for them to seek justice appropriately, pointing that stakeholders must ensure that the message reaches all the nooks and crannies.
Also, in their separate remarks, the Chairman, Ondo State Agency for the Welfare of Persons with Disabilities, Mrs. Folasade Arise and the Chairman, Ondo State chapter of Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD) said their disabilities make them vulnerable to violence, especially rape, noting that it was a boost to the protection of human rights.
Earlier, the Executive Secretary, Ondo State Agency Against Gender-Based Violence (OSAA-GBV), Bolanle Afolabi, said the braille launch would enhance the sensitisation programme already started by her agency, stressing that the VAPP law exists to protect everybody, including men and women.