Victims of SGBV urged to speak up
“Victims of SGBV, do not be afraid or shy to speak up about your unfortunate experience to demand justice because the shame is that of the perpetrators and not yours.”
She asked them to open-up to trusted people, and right authorities, especially security service institutions to demand justice on their behalf and protect them.
Dr. Kanem, also the UNFPA Executive Director, gave the advice at the launch of the Premier of the “Hey Woman”, drama series by Nigerian Actress Stephanie Linus, formerly Stephanie Okereke in Abuja, on the reality of gender-based violence in Nigeria and other parts of the world to mark this year’s 16 days of gender activism against it.
Gender equality, she said, was related to the successful achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, adding that she was anticipating a world where female leadership in all spheres of life was normal.
In a speech read on behalf of the First Lady of the Republic of Nigeria, Mrs Aisha Buhari, by the wife of the Vice President, she said gender-based violence was a horrifying reality and human rights violation.
She said it limited access to opportunities and resources and promoted harmful traditional practices, which served as hindrance to human progress.
“I Aisha Buhari have zero tolerance for gender-based violence, and I say enough is enough,” she stated.
Ms Argentina Matavel Piccin, the UNFPA Regional Director for West and Central Africa, said West and Central Africa witnessed more forced marriages as the main form of violence against children.
“Recently, I attended a meeting in Niger, where the President called for an end to child marriage and some traditional leaders in the country, asked the President to then change the age of marriage from 15 to 18,” she narrated and encouraged world and national leaders to undertake significant initiatives to protect girls and vulnerable women.
Madam Dame Pauline K. Tallen, Minister of the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, Nigeria, admonished parents and guardians to empower their children to say ‘no’ to any form of unconsented sex and enlighten them on SGBV.
She called on the Justice System of Nigeria and across Africa to arise and give justice to the thousands of SGBV cases that were before them.
Mrs Stephanie Okereke Linus, who is the UNFPA Regional Goodwill Ambassador for West and Central Africa, said she realised that the best way to raise awareness on SGBV and its consequences was to develop a creative concept to sensitise the public through films.
She entreated the Nigerian Federal Government to develop an SGBV helpline for victims for support.
In an interaction with the UNFPA’s media team, some members of the public shared their opinions on SGBV.
Some men said they sometimes had to exercise self-control to overcome their sexual feelings for girls who had dressed indecently to entice them.
Some ladies also debunked claims by men that dressing indecently was geared towards attracting them to bed, saying they dressed like that simply because it was their nature and nothing more.
A movie was also shown to display how women were abused by their intimate partners or husbands, but they (women) still defended them publicly out of fear and “unreasonable reasons.”