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Group advocates increased awareness to end gender-based violence

By Oluwatope Lawanson

Women Liberation and Transformation Group (W-LIT) and other stakeholders have advocated increased community awareness on the dangers of gender-based violence as a strategy to end the menace.

The stakeholders made the call at a community dialogue organised by W-LIT in Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the dialogue supported by Women Advocate Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC) is funded by Ford Foundation.

It had the theme: “Building Community Level Accountability Mechanism and Enhancing Collaboration between Women Leaders and Traditional Institutions in Addressing Gender Based Violence”.

Traditional leaders, community chiefs, religious leaders, women leaders, youth representatives, security personnel, educationists, health workers, market leaders, artisans and traders attended the event.

The W-LIT President, Mrs Olanike MicTaiwo, said that the essence of the dialogue was to build solidarity, accountability and commitment to ending violence against women and girls in the Lagos State.

MicTaiwo said that W-LIT desired eradication of violence against women and girls in Lagos communities.

According to her, the organisation is engaging traditional institutions, religious leaders, women leaders and market leaders toward ending violence against women and girls in the state.

She urged that sentiments should not be accommodated when addressing cases of gender-based violence, sexual assault and other vices.

She called on governments to create more awareness on the implications of gender-based violence and violence against women and girls.

MicTaiwo also called for creation of easily accessible help centres and adequate punishment of perpetrators to serve as a deterrent to others.

“The reason some perpetrators are having a field day is because they are being covered up by some family members, community leaders and friends.

“Law is law and should be treated as such, without sentiments, fear or favour,” she said.

SP Grace Eburaja, Pedro Police Divisional Crime Officer at Shomolu, Lagos State, described gender-based violence/domestic violence as a serious crime.

Eburaja said that there was need for increased awareness on the dangers of the crime through various the mass media, social media platforms and ministries of justice.

She said that Lagos State was doing much to curb domestic violence but should speed up prosecution of reported cases.

She said: “It is no longer business as usual.

“Rape or defilement is a serious crime.

Also, the police do not take it lightly on domestic violence, knowing its implications,” she said.

Eburaja advised parents to spend more time to guide their children to save them from being victims of sexual violence and related vices.

“Parents should not leave their responsibilities/parental duties in the hands of strangers, friends, neighbours and family members.

“They should monitor their children’s activities especially on social media platforms and teach them the implications of violating rules,” she said.

She noted that rape/defilement was punishable with life imprisonment.

Eburaja urged that perpetrators should not be protected but exposed and made to face the wrath of the law.

A school proprietress, Mrs Gloria Quadri, urged governments to educate communities on the implications of violence.

According to her, governments should create awareness about where cases could be reported and treated properly.

The proprietress also urged training of those handling domestic violence and related cases to avoid stigmatising victims.

Chief Waheed Agiri, Baale (Chief) of Orile Bariga, Lagos State, thanked WARDC and Ford Foundation for the event.

Agiri urged parents and guardians to monitor their children properly.

He advised that parents should train both the boy-child and the girl-child and avoid covering up their vices but punish all wrongdoings.

He said: “A child that is not trained may end up destroying the home and community. Teach your children the way of the Lord so that they give you peace.”

Agiri also advised husbands to love their wives and vice versa for peace to reign in their homes and by extension, communities.

NAN reports that the highpoints of the community dialogue were introduction of a community response team and creation of a coalition of communities Baales against gender-based violence. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)

Edited by Fatima Sule/Ijeoma Popoola