The fact remains that the main primary targets of Gender Based Violence (GBV) are women and girls, but not only are they at high risk of being abused, they also suffer exacerbated consequences and high social stigma as compared with what men endure. As a result of gender discrimination and their lower socio-economic status, women have fewer options and fewer resources at their disposal to fight back or chase justice.
Based on this, CLEEN Foundation organized a sensitization conference in Abuja with the aim of curbing menace of Gender Based Violence. Ochiaka Ugwu was there for Peoples Daily.
It is said that gender-based violence (GBV) is a human rights violation, a public health challenge, and a barrier to civic, social, political, and economic participation. It also not only affects the safety, dignity, overall health status, and human rights of millions of people who experienced it, but also the fabric of any nation’s existence.
Gender-based violence knows no boundary. It affects everybody irrespective of ethnic group, race, class, religion, education level, and international borders. Studies have it that an estimated one in three women worldwide has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime.
Although statistics on the prevalence of violence are not coherent in our nation as many have refused to speak up given the social stigma attached to victims, the degree is incredible, the scope is huge, and the consequences for individuals, families, communities, and countries are disturbing.
This makes it fundamental to promote the rights of all individuals and reduce gender-based violence while mitigating its harmful effects on individuals and communities. It was based on this that CLEEN Foundation organized this campaign to mark 2017 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls and International Human Rights Day.
Speaking during the event, the Program Manager of CLEEN Foundation, Ruth E. Olofin said that each year, the world commemorates the global campaign to end gender based violence across the globe during the 16 days of activism.
She said the global action against gender based violence uses 16 days starting from November 25th (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls) to December 10th (International Human Rights Day) to highlight the plight of women and girls facing various forms of gender based violence (GBV) within a broad framework of human rights violations.
Olofin also stressed the need for all actors to scale up efforts to end all forms of human rights abuses.
Speaking on the 2017 theme, which is, “Leave No One Behind: End Violence against Women and Girls”.
She noted that is a reminder on the need to include those often neglected in our collective efforts to end GBV.
Olofin informed that conflicts, security challenges and subsequent displacements have all brought new forms of violence against women and girls; with the peculiarity of their situation serving as potential grounds for neglect while focusing on meeting their urgent and basic humanitarian needs for food, clean water and shelter.
Continuing, she lamented that most often, some of these abuses emanate from trusted partners, security and justice officials who take advantage of the vulnerability of those in their protection.
She stressed the need to broaden the scope and the debate on addressing gender based violence from a focus on women and girls to include men and boys.
Olofin maintained that this finds evidence in recent rising waves of domestic violence targeted at men, stating that the society’s expectations and gender constructions of masculinity makes the discourse more complicated as men and boys are expected to be strong even in the face of abuse.
Her words, “While GBV targeted at women and girls still has a premium place in view of the scale of abuse, it is imperative to put a spotlight on new issues and trends on gender based violence in our quest to collectively find ways of ending the menace’.
She urged all justice and security institutions to provide more protection and institute preventive laws to protect persons vulnerable to violence while guaranteeing friendly and accessible means of documenting reports from survivors.
While urging the Nigerian Parliament to pass the proposed gender and equal opportunity bill without delay, she stated that the bill if passed into law will provide a legislation requesting to eliminate all forms of discrimination on the basis of sex and gender in public and private places.
“We call on all State governors to demonstrate and operationalize the 2015 Violence Against Persons Prohibition Acts (VAPP) and National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to urgently pass the proposed Gender And Equal Opportunities Bill which seeks to provide a legislation seeking to eliminate all forms of discrimination on the basis of sex and gender in public and private spaces”.
She concluded by reminding the audience that 2017 theme calls on us all to leave No One Behind and gender based violence against all persons.
Also speaking, National Coordinator of Proactive Gender Initiatives, Bar. Esther Uzoma who spoke on the topic: “Evolving Trends, Issues and Recommendations to Curb the Menace of Gender Based Violence” said that tremendous success have been recorded in the past year on the campaign against Gender Based Violence, but stressed the need for comrades to take cognizance of evolving nature of GBV and adopt pro-active methods to tackle the menace.
She lamented the recent of forms of gender based violence linking it with what is seen in our horror movies, maintaining that we must adopt a proactive step to nip it in the bud.
“In recent times, we have witnessed gross and unprecedented forms of GBV known only to that dark ages and horror movies; this is our reality today as such and in line with this year’s theme (Leave No One Behind: End Violence against Women and Girls) we must adopt proactive gender sensitive initiatives in addressing these horrendous acts of human rights violations today.
“This year alone, we have witnessed gory and heart breaking forms of GBV, ranging from the rape of six months old baby in Kano by a man and his wife, the gross violation of under aged children by policemen in Nasarawa state, the new trend of wives murdering their husbands, the rape and violation of women and girls in IDPs camp, the attack and murder and displacements of rural settlements by the Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram terrorists.
The slave camps in Libya where in this 21st century humans are being sold for as low as $100 and their organs harvested and sold to the highest bidders, the unaccounted death of 26 now Nigerian teenage girls found at sea and buried in Italy”.
She took a swipe on the activities of special anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force on the way they have violated peoples’ fundamental rights especially young successful Nigerians.
“And most recently the extreme brutality and human rights violation of the special anti-Robbery Squad of the NPF largely targeted against successful young men with flashy phones, cars and lavish lifestyle. As if there are no successful young law abiding male professionals in Nigeria who fit this profile”.
“It is important to note that these evolving GBV trends are not unconnected to the prevalent socio-political and economic realities in our country today”.
She noted that campaign against GBV is a progressive one and has metamorphosed over the years.
“The campaign against GBV is a progressive one and from the trends, it is obvious that GBV has metamorphosed over the years and as such, we must restructure our modus operandi as development workers in other to efficiently address the evolving trends in GVB”.
However, before now there is general consensus by stakeholders on the need for a program to increase screening and identification of GBV and to provide counseling and referral of survivors to relevant service providers.
This will see healthcare workers brought in to help NGOs recognize the clinical signs of GBV during interactions with women seeking routine services like pre-natal care and family planning.
This will enable them when identified to provide referral and counseling services for survivors to trusted and tested networks of NGOs.