The Abiodun Essiet Initiative for Girls (AEIG), in collaboration with The Girls Pride Foundation, has called on stakeholders in Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to take Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) cases seriously, to help address the abuse among adolescents.
The group made the appeal at a town hall meeting with women, traditional rulers and some key stakeholders in Kuje Area Council in Abuja.
They described cases of SGBV in the country as alarming and worrisome.
Mrs Abiodun Essiet, the Executive Director of AEIG, said the townhall meeting was aimed at educating rural communities in FCT on gender based violence and the need to speak out when faced with such issues.
According to her, SGBV has become a current pandemic in the society, adequate sensitisation is paramount to help address the challenges.
Essiet said the objective of the awareness was to help in the elimination of gender based violence among adolescents in FCT schools, through education.
“The organisation feel there is a need to speak out; this project is going to be carried out in the six Area Councils of the FCT, to talk to people especially girls, with a short video.
“We will continue to keep the conversation going with the community and with their traditional rulers, so that when there are cases, they will know the right authorities to report to.
“Also, we will sensitise them to help them know the narrative of various forms of Sexual and Gender Based Violence, ranging from rape, spouse battering and domestic violence.
“We will be doing this with NAPTIP, Police, NSCDC, Human Rights representatives, Social Welfare Department, among others, all towards supporting the community in addressing issues on SGBV,” she said.
On her part, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of The Girls Pride Foundation, Mrs Akinwole Ishaya, said there was need for prompt report of cases of SGBV to the appropriate authorities, in order for victims to get justice.
Ishaya said the organisation focus on the underprivileged who have little or no access to education and empowerment, and also advocate for greater economic opportunities for women.
According to her, the organisation is also aimed at addressing the structural and systematic barriers that stop women from utilising an opportunity of equal economic outcome.
She said that the meeting which focused on scorecard on community response to sexual and gender based, revealed areas where the community needs improvement and help.
The Director-General of NAPTIP, Dr Fatima Waziri-Azi, in her presentation said SGBV refer to any act perpetrated against a person’s will and is based on gender norms and unequal power relationships.
Waziri-Azi said NAPTIP has trained and deployed 12 Protection Officers to the six Area Councils in FCT, adding that Kuje council currently has two NAPTIP officers who have been inundated with a lot of cases since assumption of duty from June.
According to her, most of the cases required enforcement of arrest of the suspects and are referred to the NAPTIP Headquarters to facilitate the cases.
She said violence include threats of violence and coercion, SGBV inflict on women and girls, men and boys and a severe violation of several human rights, adding that SGBV may be perpetrated by anyone.
“Causes of violence includes mental problems, poverty and unemployment, education, young parents, relationship retention behaviour, historical factors, cultural factors and self defence.
“The preventions are: educate yourself on the root causes of violence, interrupt sexist and discriminatory languagesbe critical and question, interrupt abuse, stop sexual harassment.
“Stop victim blaming, stop rape culture, awareness and sensitisation, campaign, workshops, meetings and if you see something, say something,” she said.
The Gender Desk and Social Protection Officer of Kuje Area Council, Mr Emmanuel Magaji, appreciated the group for the initiative and for sensitising members of the community on sexual and gender-based violence.
Magaji added that the knowledge gained from the townhall meeting would be shared amongst other traditional rulers within the community, so as to effectively mitigate the menace.
However, the desk officer maintained that the programme had afforded the area council more knowledge on how to handle and report cases of SGBV. (NAN)