‘Why society must encourage women to report sexual violence’
There has been a growing trend of domestic violence against women in Nigeria in recent times, giving rise to concerted efforts by some state governments, corporate orgasnisations and development partners in the campaign to break the perceived conspiracy of silence on sexual violence.
Lagos State has witnessed a steady increase in the cases of sexual violence been reported. In 2016, 950 cases were reported as against 452 cases reported in 2015 and there are signs the cases might be higher for 2017.
According to an inspector from Isolo police station, Bright Agozie, there has been a remarkable increase in the number of cases being reported to them despite the fact that victims find it difficult to come out and report.
In order to address the culture of silence among victims, the Women At Risk International Foundation (WARIF) recently trained 500 Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) in Lagos as part of plans to reduce the increasing spate of rape, sexual assault and human trafficking among young girls and women by 30 per cent within a 12 months period.
Founder of WARIF, Kemi DaSilva-Ibru, noted that in many communities across Nigeria, stigmatisation and the shroud of silence still surrounds cases of sexual violence and rape. “However, through the partnership and training of Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) who are regarded as trusted members and the ‘gate keepers’ of many rural communities, dedicated to caring for expectant mothers and women who have experienced abuse, we would be able to reach many of these affected women and offer care and other services we provide.”
Besides the TBAs, WARIF works closely with secondary school children through the WARIF Educational School Programme.
This is an initiative that was implemented in a select number of government schools in Lagos targeted at both sexes to change the behavior pattern of children. With the program, affected children and parents are taught to address the issue of child sexual violence through recognition of the signs, speaking out and knowing where to seek assistance.
Meanwhile, disturbed by the increasing rate of domestic violence and other related crimes in Ikorodu, the Community Rights and Health Support Centre (CORIAHSC), has appealed to Nigerians to support campaigns aimed at reducing cases of such violence in the area.
The project coordinator of the group, Uche Okoro, made the appeal during the 2017 International Week of Action against Domestic Violence organized in collaboration with Department for International Development (DFID) in Ikorodu.
Speaking at the event attended by over 2,000 school pupils, Vice Chairman of Ikorodu Local Council, Folashade Olabanji-Oba, said: “Nobody should be silent, it is important for the sensitization to continue in achieving a society that gives zero tolerance to domestic violence”.
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