By Prisca Duru

Following the success of the maiden edition of its Boys’ Conversation Café (BCC) Initiative, Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF), kicked off the second edition of the project, to educate a wider range of boys in Nigeria about gender based violence and its effects.

The project aims to bring to the fore, the role of boys in the reduction and prevention of rape and sexual violence.

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During the BCC project which launched in April 2018, 40 boys between the ages of 13 – 17 years in Surulere Secondary School, were trained on the identification of the signs and prevention of Gender Based Violence in their communities. The 4-week intervention program recorded a significant success in terms of immediate behavioural change in the participants.

As an extension of this success, the second cycle of the project, sponsored by SAP Nigeria will train 160 boys across selected secondary schools in Lagos in 2019. The WARIF Boys Conversation Café takes the form of informal dialogue sessions with groups of secondary school boys, where well-trained male volunteers serve as facilitators and mentors at these sessions.

Speaking about the project, Founder of WARIF, Dr Kemi DaSilva Ibru said “We believe that educating boys with a view to changing their existing mind set and perspective about the notion of rape and sexual violence will be transformational in the lives of these young men. This will ultimately lead to a reduction in     the cases of Sexual and Gender based violence recorded.

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“This is why the WARIF Boys’ Conversation Café project was launched in 2018 – to change the existing attitudes held by boys and young men on the topic of rape and sexual violence. Through the training held by BCC, we were able to see a positive change and improvement in the narrative of the young boys and we hope that with the expansion of this project, we will achieve a greater impact and a reduction in the high incidence of rape and sexual violence in our communities. Together, we can build a society where boys and men, growing up with a positive masculinity becoming protectors of women and not perpetrators of these awful acts” DaSilva -Ibru added.

“WARIF is reinforcing its call for everyone to raise their voices against rape and sexual violence of young girls and women in Nigeria and beyond. Parents and teachers need to play an active role in the education of their sons about appropriate sexual behavior and conduct. Male role models and father figures should also maintain positive influences to the lives of young boys.

WARIF also continues   to address   its war against sexual and gender based violence with the free services offered at the   WARIF Centre,   and other educational and community based initiatives.” She intoned.

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