Governments, global funding agencies, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), and other various intervention actors have been called upon to sustain efforts at eliminating all forms of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in Nigeria and other countries of the world.
This call was made in Lagos, Nigeria by participants at the recently concluded two-day 2023 Annual General Meeting of MenEngage Nigeria with the theme: Fight Against Sexual and Gender Based Violence – So Far, How Well in Nigeria?
It was the consensus of participants which included members of the MenEngage Nigeria Steering Committee, member NGOs of the country’s network, Guest Speakers and the media; that whereas enormous work has been done and are still been done, the prevalence of SGBV is worrisome.
They therefore called for more involvement of governments, institutions, men and women in positions of authority to back their words with actions against SGBV.
This call for more action has become necessary in view of the fact that as at October 2022, a total of 32 out of the country’s 36 states and the FCT, have domesticated the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act but, the rate of reported cases is on the increase.
In her address, the Keynote Speaker and a strong advocate of gender equality and a violent-free society, Hajia Sekinah Temitope Lawal urged all stakeholders to keep up the momentum aimed at ending all forms of gender-based while providing sucuour to those affected legallly, emotionally, financially and psychologically.
“Experience has shown that at the centre of consolidating SGBV are culture and traditions which promote patriarchy and the erroneous impression that boys and men are superior to girls and women. All these must be corrected.” Hajia Lawal advised.
Participants identified that a few number of the prominent cases of SGBV which received judgement at the courts are recorded only in Lagos while other cases that made headline news in other parts of the country like Kano and Kaduna have justice delayed.
And in one of such cases, it was reported that the paltry sum of N200,000 fine passed on a perpetrator of SGBV in Kaduna recently, only serves as an elixir for powerful members of the society who are perpetrators of the act.
It was also identified that the country’s poor justice system needs to be strengthened if this menace must be curbed.
Moreover, members of the law enforcement agencies despite the trainings some of them have received in handling SGBV cases, they need to be empowered to respond to reported cases.
In his opening remark, Chairperson of MenEngage Nigeria, Mr Babatunde Omosebi emphasised the need for every hand to be on deck if the country must bring SGBV to its knee.
Omosebi encouraged the CSOs and the people they work with to “see something, say something of SGBV cases because era of it does not concern you, are over.
Whether at work place, home or schools and in our rural communities, we must collectively reject and condemn SGBV in every form – verbal, psychological or physical.
Laying more emphasis on the need to eradicate SGBV at all levels, the Vice Chairperson of MenEngage Nigeria, Grace Isong Akpan reiterated the need for collaboration in the determined effort to eradicate SGBV: “the secret to the success of eradicating SGBV in Nigeria lies in collaborative and collective efforts by different segments of state and institutional actors.
Our approach must be that no one is left behind in this struggle especially youths who are very active in the social media space, should use these tools to expose this menace and resist the drowning of positive voices.
Other guest speakers like Pastor Paul Osayande, Executive Director of Mercy and Peace Create whose presentation was made by the National Youth Coordinator of MenEngage Nigeria, Precious Nwaeze reminded participants that domesticating the VAPP Act was not an end in itself rather, more important is its implementation and this requires that every hand must be on deck to bring to an end various forms of SGBV.
In her appreciation of the intense discussion that took place during the AGM, National Coordinator of MenEngage Nigeria and Programmes Manager for Society for the Improvement of Rural People (SIRP) which hosts the Secretariat of MenEngage in Nigeria; pointed out that the discussion must not end at the floor of the AGM.
Instead, “members should take back the messages from this AGM to their various geo-political zones and engage state actors and donor agencies to bring speedily to an end SGBV in the country.”Earlier in his goodwill message to participants, Executive Director of SIRP, Dr Christopher Ugwu has reminded the AGM that there exists a huge gap in rehabilitating victims of SGBV in the country.
Dr Ugwu pointed out that “aside victimisation there is not adequate provision for their rehabilitation which could include safe homes and empowerments, since most victims suffer economic and other losses which comes when they speak out.” He called on government, donor agencies and legislators to deepen the value-add in the VAPP Act, among others.
Participants to the 2023 AGM of MenEngage Nigeria were drawn from member organisations representing the nation’s six geo-political zones, members of the Steering Committee and the Youth Steering Committee, invited guests and the media.
MenEngage Nigeria works collectively and individually towards advancing gender justice, human rights and social justice to achieve a world where everyone can enjoy healthy, fulfilling and equitable relationships and attain their full potential.
MenEngage Nigeria is a member of MenEngage Africa with its coordinating office in Sonke Gender Justice in South Africa which supervises the affairs of the over 22 country members through a Steering Committee to bring the overall vision of the global MenEngage Global Alliance to African nations.
Nigeria became a member of the Alliance nearly four years ago and the country network through its members has become one of the shining lights of the Alliance in the continent.
The Nigerian network seeks to provide a collective voice on the need to engage men and boys in gender equality, to build and improve the field of practice around engaging men in achieving gender justice, and advocating before policy makers at different levels.
The aim is to promote partnership in engaging men and boys for gender equality, preventing HIV, Promote Human Rights, Reducing violence at all levels, questioning structural barriers that tend to promote gender inequality.