By Gabriel Olawale
The Centre for Women’s Health and Information, CEWHIN has identified concerted efforts from a broad range of stakeholders as the only way to address the linkages between sexual and gender based violence and harmful practices with related aspects of sexual reproductive health rights.
Speaking in Lagos during a two-days capacity building workshop for Women’s Rights Defenders on constructive engagement with religious leaders, CEWHIN Director of Administration, Mrs. Atinuke Odukoya said violence against women and girls remains widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations.
“The Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey, NDHS, 2018, revealed that 9 percent of women in Nigeria have ever experienced sexual violence, while 4 percent of women have experienced sexual violence in the year preceding the interview.
“Women who are divorced, separated, widowed are more vulnerable to sexual violence (15 percent), compared to 9 percent of married women,” she noted.
Atinuke added that occurrence of sexual violence is still high among children compared to older females as revealed by the data collected by Mirabel Centre, a sexual assault referral centre at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH between July 2013 and June 2019 .
She said 80.7 percent of all reported cases of sexual assault at the Centre were children below 17 years while most of the perpetrators (67 percent) were known persons.
Corroborating her views, CEWHIN Senior Programme Officer, Sumbo Oladipo said sexual violence can have psychological, emotional, and physical effects on a survivor, “these effects aren’t always easy to deal with, but with right help and support they can be managed.
“We urge people to be part of the movement to end violence against women and girls by speak out against it, raise awareness among friends, family, colleagues and community members. Volunteer or donate to organizations that offer services to victims and take time to listen to survivors without judgment. Refer them to a professional counsellor.
On her part, Executive Director of Women’s Rights and Health Project, Bose Ironsi commend CEWHIN for their Spotlight Initiative which aim to build capacity of relevant stakeholder on better ways to relate with issues of gender base violence.
“They are also building CSO capacity on how to engage religious leaders, community and advocate on better ways to deal with all forms of violence. We want all voice to come together and say enough is enough to sexual and gender base violence, violence against women and girls. Enough of women not been able to take control of their sexual reproductive health and right.