… Women Must Speak Out, Stop Culture of Silence
Having cases of volence against women and girls cannot benefit anyone in any way. Be it individuals, families, societies and nations at large. Its implications are quite wide and deep; physically, morally, psychological, economically, socially among others.
Gender-Based Violence, GBV, comes in various shapes and forms. Among these various types is the new trend of frequent divorce of young innocent girls by some heartless mallams under the guise of religion.
And tthe very common situations of rape, sexual harassment, incest among others are still there.
I took time out to visit this place in Ibadam and the lady in question pleaded anonymity. These category of mallams take delight in adopting ‘use and dump’ syndrome in relating with innocent ladies.
There is a callous mallam in Ibadan, Oyo State who always divorces wives within a span of two years.
Reports from neighbours have it that once he discovers another innocent, young, beautiful lady, he finds flimsy excuses to divorce the one he married just about two years earlier,to pave way for another ‘experimental rat’.
He is noted for always going for virgins, preferably a school leaver or an undergraduate – plays on her emotions, manipulate her sensibilities and exploit her innocence.
The big question is: how do we protect young, vulnerable and innocent young ladies from falling victims of these pseudo scholars and wicked Mallams?
What legal mechanisms and social safety nets are available to mitigate the unfortunate occurrences? And what sanctions do we deploy against the callous predators to serve as deterrent to others whose only game is ‘sampling’ beautiful young ladies, only to be used and dumped within months.
Government at all levels should not look away as domestic violence and social injustice are being perpetuated under the guise of religious practice. This is an area where many young women are being violated with many suffering in silence.
Even in IDP Camps, the story is not different. I was in Borno recently and witnessed how womem and young girls are made to sleep with men in charge of food to get what to eat. This is to show us that GBV comes in different forms.
Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG), global data shows that one in three women has experienced physical and, or sexual violence at some point. With just about a decade to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals 2030.
This kind of data should be a source of concern for us as individuals, organisations, governments and others, as the world seems far from realising goal number five, which seeks gender equality and women’s empowerment.
In this new decade, all the state governments that have launched their gender policy strategy and implementation framework like Lagos, Cross River and others, must be truly committed to implementing such policies aimed at fighting against gender inequality.
This is because having good policies is not usually the problem in Nigeria but proper implementation.
People need to speak out more in this decade while all hands must be on deck to ensure that we achieve zero GBV very soon.
Enough of culture of silence especially when the perpetrator of the violation is a close relative which is always the case. All stakeholders, NGOs, government agencies, police, judiciary among others, must work together in order to ensure that justice is served at any point in time so as to serve as deterrent to others.
As we are trying to do now in terms of attitudinal change, we must continue to catch them young by raising our boys as responsible adults who value women no matter their shortcomings and will be ready to protect them always.
This awareness creation we have been doing in campuses and must continue such trend. It has been noted that it might be a bit more difficult changing grown ups who are formed already with cultural and religious stereotypes.
The gender policy’s basic principle and guide should be strictly adhered to in addressing gender issues such as gender inequality and harmful traditional practices against women and girls such as female genital mutilation, harmful widowhood rites, domestic violence among others.
We must always remember that when we value our women through empowerment and due respect, it is in the overall interest of the nation as a whole.
From the various training done for Journalists all over the country recently, it is quite obvious that the UN Spotlight Initiative is very committed to the fight against all forms of Gender-Based Violence as well as eliminate all harmful practices against women.
Since the Spotlight Initiative training, several Radio and television programmes, newspapers publications and online news have been done to sensitise the public on the need to end all forms of GBV and this will be a continuous conversation until we achieve that zero GBV as a nation.