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… workshop is meant to evaluate our successes, challenges

By Peter Okutu, Abakaliki

A Non-governmental organization, Women’s Rights and Health Project, WRAHP, yesterday stated that after its data analysis and collation on gender-based issues across Local Government Areas in Ebonyi State, it discovered that the phenomenon was more prevalent in Abakaliki and Afikpo North LGAs of the State.

The Ebonyi State Coordinator of WRAHP, Mr. Charles Ndubuisi stated this during a Refresher Workshop for Community representatives on enhancing gender equality and protection from gender-based violence in Ebonyi State at Clevero Hotel, Abakaliki.

“During a one-year program in sensitizing children and women in Ebonyi State, especially in Abakaliki and Afilpo North LGAs, we found out that the two LGAs had the highest rate of sex and gender-based violence.”

The refresher workshop, which is powered by WRAHP, with support from Open Society Initiative for West Africa, OSIWA, was also designed to expose participants to the legal instrument available for addressing gender-based violence in the State.

According to him, the effect of domestic violence includes, fear, guilt and depression, withdrawal and isolation, anger, violence, drug or alcohol.”

“This program is funded by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, which last year inaugurated Women’s Right and Health Project to do sensitization on women and children in selected LGAs in Ebonyi State, especially Abakaliki and Afikpo North LGAs; which during our mapping out exercise, identified two LGAs with the highest incidences of sexual and gender based violence.

“As a result, community groups including faith based organisations like Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Muslim community, market women and students numbering over sixty, were trained as community leaders to sensitize the people on the need for amplifying voices on issues of sexual and gender based violence.

“It must also be clarified that it’s not all about women, it’s also about men, because men are also victims of the sex and gender based violence and that’s why they should be active participants in the campaign against the menace.

“Community people who are trained, sensitized in their communities, make cases on issues of sexual and gender violence, especially on how to handle the survivors of the menace. Many people don’t know how to handle challenges associated with the menace, including the family members interference, the influence of the community leaders and other stakeholders, leading to the criminalization of the matter.

“Today, the Community Representatives need to identify their success stories and challenges. This is to ensure that when the program ends, we can beat our chests and say in Ebonyi State, the people can report on the cases of sexual and gender based violence.

“Based on the collected data, we can say, we have about 20 or more persons imprisoned, just like the Violence Against Person Prohibition Law, VAPP, in Ebonyi State. We are looking towards the amendment of the Law, which is reigning at the moment. We believe that if amended, it will bring change. The amendment was part of the things highlighted during our advocacy visit. “

The Programme Officer of WRAHP, Ebonyi State, Dr Sarah Chima added that “We planned this program to build and prepare the community representatives, so that they will be able to identify this domestic violence in different communities and take action to avert further reoccurrences. And to also provide justice to victims of the domestic violence.”

“As Community Representatives, we have to be able to achieve our dreams and the success stories; the reasons behind this program are as a result of the high level of gender inequalities and gender-based violence we have recorded in some LGAs.”

Participants in the workshop, Idam Eze and Chima Chinwe Mercy, Afikpo North and Abakaliki LGAs respectively, explained that in the course of carrying out their sensitization exercises on sexual and gender based violence, Churches, mosques, Students, among others had been reached

“As a result of our advocacy program, we have been able to tell different people at the community level that sexual and gender based violence is a violation of human rights, especially that of the girl child and other women. And we have been able follow related cases.”

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