The negative effect of gender-based violence is enormous. It undermines the health, dignity, security, and autonomy of its victim. Victims of violence can suffer sexual and reproductive health consequences including forced and unwanted pregnancies, abortions, traumatic fistula, and sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV and/or even death. Yet, it remains shrouded in a culture of silence. That is why advocacy, campaigns, and sensitization is very important. 

Gender-Based Violence against women in Nigeria occur in many areas some of which include rape, physical abuse, verbal abuse, incest, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, child marriage, denial of right to choose spouse, denial of the right to own a property, refusal to permit women to work or control their own income, refusing the girl child to go to school, and all forms of cruelty like refusal of any affection or sexual satisfaction. It also includes restricting a woman’s relationship with the wider community such as friends, colleagues or relatives; seeing women as incompetent, worthless or inferior to men; and girl trafficking with the intention of using them as commercial sex workers. Others are physical assaults imposed on widows indirectly regarded as widow’s rites. Despite the progress made by the Nigerian government, approximately 80 million women and girls are still victims of Gender-Based Violence, GBV (United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA).

Bimbo Odukoya Foundation is one of the NGOs in Nigeria working to further curb/end gender violence in Nigeria. In 2019, the foundation sensitized 19,898 students, youths, teachers, parents, and clergies in Rivers, Ogun and Lagos States. Representatives from the NGO recently attended a two-day capacity building and sensitization workshop oraganised for religious leaders to create the much-needed awareness and enlighten their congregation about gender-based violence.

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Dr. Habibat Uthman-Oladosu of the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies, University of Ibadan and Pastor Tope Fapounda of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, both participants of the seminar-workshop held at Lagos, bemoaned the high rate of sexual violence in the society and the culpability of some religious leaders in blaming the survivors (victims) and shielding the perpetrators.

Dr. Uthman-Oladosu described as ‘intellectual violence’, a situation where the education of a male child is prioritized over that of the females, or where a female child is denied formal education. She added that women must be empowered to realize their mental, social and physical well-being.

In the same vein, Pastor Tope Fapounda frowned against the high prevalence of sexual violence against ladies by relatives, fathers, step-fathers, male friends or school mates. He also condemned forced marriages of young ladies under the guise of poverty, religion or cultural practices.

Dr Akinreti, who was also at the workshop,  called on religious leaders to be partners in progress with the Lagos state government and the Police Gender Desk response team in protecting the rights of the vulnerable women and girls.

The workshop explored the root causes of gender-based violence and the facilitators took the attendees through the effective referral pathways and case management system to adopt whenever cases of violence are reported to them. Religious leaders and activists at the event also agreed to work with women-based NGOs to wage war against the scourge.

 

To report cases on GBV, kindly contact the foundation on;

08035800201, 08093933439

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