By Chimezie Godfrey
The Director Genreal, National Orientation Agency (NOA), Dr Garba Abari has said that the menace of sexual and gender based violence requires the collective efforts of all Nigerians to put an end to it.
Dr Abari said this on Thursday in Abuja at a stakeholders’ Roundtable tagged,”Trends, Challenges and Impact of Sexual and Gender Based Violence on Young People in Nigeria; The Way Forward.”
He noted that the meeting which was hosted in collaboration with the Peeing Advocacy and Advancement Centre in Africa (PAACA) was aimed at brainstorming with critical stakeholders to deal with the resurgence of sexual and gender based violence in Nigeria.
“Today’s meeting is in continuation of our search for a solution to the age long problem which appear to have found new expression in our country.
“Whether old or new, rape or sexual and gender based violence are evil against humanity which all Nigerians must come together to end.
“Nigerians in our individual roles as parents, teachers, religious leaders, neighbors, security agents, civil society actors and health workers have a duty to perform in finding a way to end this bad behavior by the worst among us.
“Even victims have a role to play by speaking out through relevant bodies while seeking medical support,”he said.
The NOA DG stressed that the disturbing wave of sexual and gender based violence calls for serious concern and action by both state and non-state actors.
He said that this challenge prompted the convergence of government representatives and stakeholders to harmonise the strategy for the fight against rape in Nigeria.
Abari stressed that it is crucial for all Nigerians together for a real solution that will ensure that the children, women and the vulnerables remain confident in the collective will of the society to safeguard them.
The Co-host of the event, Executive Director, PAACA, Ezenwa Nwagwu who thanked the NOA DG for agreeing to the collaboration, said this kind of convening has become necessary due to escalating cases of sexual and gender based violence witnessed in recent months.
Nwagwu noted that a major challenge in the fight against sexual and gender based violence in Nigeria is that the criticism industry has grown exponentially, while the civic space of ideas for problem solving is shrinking.
He stressed that dictatorship promotes individual egoism, unlike democracy which engenders collaboration and constructive engagement, on which basis informed their decision to engage institutions that has the capacity, reach and competence to ensure that the advocacy yields positive result.
“The rape and murder of undergraduate students, the sexual exploitation of underaged 12 year old girls, sexual violation of infants less than one year old are mind bugging tails that no sane society should treat off handedly.
“As a society we are also burdened by the monster of sexual and gender based violence, the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development and United Nations Population Fund (UNFP), once commissioned a study that showed that 3 in every 10 Nigerian women has experienced physical violence by the age of 15.
“The sad reality is that justice often eludes the victims especially were ignorance, fear of mockery, stigmatization, and retaliation hinders victims of this crime from instituting police reports and pressing charges.
“But we also recognize that the system in its current format has made it difficult for victims to seek for justice in cases of sexual violations and gender based violence,” he said.
The PAACA Executive Director, said that it is time that all stakeholders fashion out the best strategy to curb the menace and liberate the society from sexual predators and gender based violence.
Represented at the auspicious occasion were the EFCC, Ministry of Women Affairs, the Nigerian Police Force, DSS, ActionAid, United Nations High Commission for Refugees, and a host of civil society organizations.