By Marie-Therese Nanlong
The United Nations, UN 16 days of activism against gender-based violence has been marked in Plateau State with series of activities to bring to the fore the plights of girl children and women, with a view of getting the attention of relevant stakeholders to address the issues.
The campaign to challenge violence against women and girls has seen the State Chapter of the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists, NAWOJ, the International Federation of Women Lawyers, FIDA and a women media group, the Baroness coming together at a rally to say no to rape and all forms of gender based violence.
The three groups declared a stand against rape saying the menace is wrecking much havoc in the society and needs to be stopped before more lives are ruined.
Walking through some streets and markets in Jos metropolis with placards, the women sensitized women and girls on issues of rape and encouraged victims to speak out to get help before it is too late.
The State Chairperson of NAWOJ, Jennifer Yarima stressed, “today has been set aside for the fight against violence against women, here in Plateau, we are synergizing with female lawyers to say no to violence against women and children. To pick out our children from the streets because some of them are hawking, some of them are into one ad-hoc job or the other that ordinarily, they should go through it as this is exposing them to a lot of danger.
“Some of them get raped on the streets; some of the women who go out to fend for their families are being molested by stronger forces. Some of these children are used for ritual purposes and all of that. The right of children, especially the girls needs to be protected and we need to make the future secured for the children. Stop molestation of children; in case you are being molested, speak out, people are there to give support. NAWOJ and FIDA are there, we must fight for justice for any child that is being violated.”
Also, Mary Izam, the State Chairperson, International Federation of Women Lawyers, FIDA added, “Today’s outing is to mark the International Day on the prevention of violence against women specifically rape. We went out to the Terminus community to speak to children who are hawking on the streets especially the girl child that are not in school but are rather used for hawking.
“We went out to sensitize them on the need to be in school instead of hawking because hawking will make them vulnerable to rape. In the process, we were able to meet some of their guardians, we interviewed some of the girls and they were able to give us some of the reasons why they are hawking. Some said they were hawking because they were sent away from schools for lack of fees so they have to hawk so that they can get money and go back to schools.
16 Days of Activism: FIDA calls on stakeholders to unite against rape culture in Nigeria(Opens in a new browser tab)
“Some of them said they were not in schools at all because there was no money for them to go to schools; some of them said they were in schools but they attend the afternoon session so they hawk in the morning. We had to encourage them to stop hawking because hawking will make them vulnerable, we also sensitize them on the need to go to public schools which they may not need to pay much so that at this time that their contemporaries are in schools, they should also be in schools. If they are in schools, they may not be prone to gender-based violence such as rape.”