By Chioma Obinna
As Nigeria marked this year’s Children’s Day, health experts have called for improved gender awareness and sensitisation among Nigerian youths as a strategy to reduce incidences of violence and abuse.
The experts who gathered at a symposium organised by the Paediatric Unit of Clinical Sciences Department of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, NIMR, in commemoration of the 2017 Children’s Day celebration with theme: “Gender Based Violence, Protecting the Girl Child agreed that gender violence was one of the most pervasive violations of human rights in the world.
In his views, Provost, Lagos State University College of Medicine, LASUCOM, Prof. Babatunde Solagberu described gender violence as one of the least prosecuted crime and poses threats to lasting peace and development.
“Gender-based violence against women means violence that affects women disproportionally violates their human rights and it is also a form of discrimination against women.
Resented by Prof. Anthonia Ogbera, an Associate Professor of Medicine at LASUCOM, Sholagberu, said gender –based violence include violent-based acts that are likely to result in physical, sexual, psychological or economic harm or suffering to women; also included are threats of such acts.
“It is estimated that seven out of 10 women in some countries face physical and sexual violence in their lifetime. “One in three girls in developing countries like Nigeria is likely to be married as a child bride; also, about 140 million girls and women have suffered female genital mutilation,’’ he said.
Sholagberu, added that violence against women had tremendous cost to communities, nations and societies, resulting in quality and quantity of life for affected victims.
“In a resource constrained society like ours, preventing violence against women is key and our youths should be the main target in curtailing such acts.
“An adolescent boy in school who learns about health and sexuality must be taught that coercion, violence and discrimination against girls are unacceptable,’’ he said.
On his part, Head, Clinical Sciences Department, NIMR, Dr Oliver Ezechi, said that the primary aim of the event was to promote the rights and well-being of Nigerian children.
Ezechi, who was represented by a Paediatric Surgeon from the Clinical Sciences Department, NIMR, Dr Nkiru David, said that it was also aimed at informing the general public to serve as advocates for the protection of the girl child.
According to him, the topic for the day is also to raise awareness on the effects of child violence because the children of today are Nigeria’s future. Students and teachers from various schools in Lagos state attended the symposium.