According to a 2015 UNICEF report, one in four girls and one in ten boys in Nigeria had experienced sexual violence before the age of 18; and six out of ten children in Nigeria experience emotional, physical or sexual abuse before the age of 18, with half experiencing physical violence.

Similarly, a survey by Positive Action for Treatment Access submitted that over 31.4 percent of girls said that their first sexual encounter had been rape or forced sex of some kind.

The statistics above clearly show the issues children are faced with while growing up, especially the girl child; with the boy child not left behind as they also experience some of these abuses. These experiences leave them emotionally bartered, psychologically unstable and societally useless. Little wonder, we have so many vices in the society today.

This is why the Pastor Bimbo Odukoya Foundation (PBOF) has taken up the responsibility of reaching out to students with the programme tagged, Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention (SHARP). This initiative is designed to raise awareness, foster prevention, and counsel victims through advocacy and intervention programmes. SHARP focuses on training students on how to avoid rape, a measure that has proven effective in substantially lowering the risk of being sexually assaulted. SHARP also works with parents, schools, churches and mosques to create safe spaces for children to avoid sexual harassment.

The foundation has reached out to a total of 4,160 students from 9 secondary schools in the first quarter of 2019. The schools are; Livingstone College, Owode Ibese Rd, Ikorodu; Agbayewa Memorial College, Obanikoro; Livingstone College, Palmgrove; Stella Maris College, Awoyokun-Onipanu; Ilupeju Junior Secondary School, Ilupeju; Ilupeju Junior Grammar School, Ilupeju; Estate Junior Grammar School, Ilupeju and Estate Senior Grammar School, Ilupeju.

The students were enlightened on sexual harassment and how to prevent any form of harassment. While Mrs. Ronke Oyelakin, Head of Programmes and Partnership, spoke to the students on the need to speak out in order to get help; Barr. Obiamaka Aga of African Women’s Lawyers Association, Lagos chapter, addressed the law’s stand on criminal offences against any child.

According to Mrs. Oyelakin, when a child experiences either physical or sexual abuse consistently from friends, uncles, aunties, parents or adults around them, it causes a lot of emotional trauma and psychological imbalance to them. “The resultant effect of these is lack of focus on their academics, rebellion, withdrawal, negative influences, and society hazards,” she said.

She further noted that this is why the foundation is committed to the cause of sensitizing the students to reduce, if not eradicate, the menace in the society. In her words, “The Bimbo Odukoya Foundation has reached a total of 21,090 beneficiaries in 2018, and we hope to reach a total of 35,000 beneficiaries in 2019.”

15 SHARP advocates were on ground to counsel survivors and attend to their questions on sex, relationships, pornography and rape, among many others.

The foundation can be reached on admin@pbofoundation.org or 08035800201, 08093933439, for any enquiries or support.

They can also be followed on their social media platforms:

Facebook: Bimbo Odukoya Foundation

Instagram: @bimboodukoyafoundation

Twitter: @PBOF05