From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World [#16daysofactivism]

The U.S Consulate General Lagos in collaboration with ACTS Generation Organization and Women Arise held a one day workshop yesterday on Domestic Violence and Abuse tagged, “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World,” with focus on the intersections of gender based Violence and Militarism.

The public affairs officer, Dehab Ghebreab, gave an overview of the trend of gender-based and domestic violence around the world. She reiterated that the purpose of the workshop was to increase awareness of the devastating impact of gender-based violence on our world.

In response to the current #16DaysofActivism, she said 16 days is not enough. It should be an everyday affair.

The floor was opened up to different speakers and activists.

Dr. Joe Odumakin, the founder of Women Arise for Change Initiative, gave an intense presentation. With vivid examples of some past and current cases of gender-based and domestic violence, she put a face [faces] to the discussion.

Since the organization’s inception in 2003, she has recorded about 11,000 cases of gender-based and domestic violence. So far in 2014, about 2,000 cases have been recorded. Out of the 2,000, only two cases of violence against men were reported. More women suffer from gender-based and domestic violence.

Meanwhile, Miss Titi Akosa, pointed out the difficulty involved in gathering data on gender-based and domestic violence. Different organizations and government institutions handle their own cases, thus no synergy in data collation.

Miss Akosa is currently working on determining the economic cost of domestic violence. She wants to find out how much it will cost to help victims in order to be able to better crowd fund support.

Data is very key, she says. We should be able to tell donors how much it will cost to support one victim of a domestic violence. Or know how many victims there are to determine the kind of shelter to build, while we await government interventions.

In Nigeria, only six out of 36 states have laws that prohibit gender-based and domestic violence, said. Mrs Grace Kelefe, the deputy director of Women Advocate Research and Documentation Centre.

This is disturbing. Does it mean our lawmakers don’t understand the implication of having no legal protection for victims? Or laid out punishment for perpetrators?

Some members of Golden Movie Ambassadors from Nollywood were present at the event. Saheed Balogun, an actor, while making a remark emphasized the need for advocates and activists to hold female leaders more accountable. They can use their position to influence support on the issue, he said.

Mr. Balogun also pointed out the need for visual messages in local context to be used for campaign messages, for greater impact.

In the words of one of the later speakers, we cannot say enough, we cannot do enough about gender-based violence.

As the event came to an end, I began to mull over a few things—first the need for Nigerian NGOs to collaborate more. Tackling an issue as complicated as gender-based violence and domestic violence is not a one-man show.

I also wondered if perhaps we are not addressing the underlying issues contributing to the increase of gender-based and domestic violence? For example, no amount of advocacy will work in a society where an average man is subjected to inhuman conditions. Such a person is bound to react aggressively at the slightest provocation.

You might have also seen the horrific video of the Ugandan maid for example. But has anyone asked the parents of the child she almost killed how they treat her [the maid]? Do they pay her minimum wage? Where does she sleep? Does she have a mattress? How often does she eat? Does madam or oga [employers] shout on her and harm her physically or psychologically at the slightest mistake?

Little things we ignore in our society build up in different forms to be called exotic names such as gender-based and domestic violence.

I know, I know. Nothing at all can justify such crazy violence.

 

Jennifer Ehidiamen founded RuralReporters.com in 2014. She is actively exploring the intersection between storytelling, tech and development. She has reported on global health and development issues in Africa for Voice of America (VOA News), Global Press Institute, Ventures Africa, The Nation etc. A 2016 Foreign Press Scholarship award recipient, 2013 Innovative Young Journalist Award recipient, 2013 New Media Fellow for International Reporting Project, and 2010 LEAP Africa Award recipient, Jennifer runs the Rural Reports project with a team spread across different regions in Africa. The news portal is dedicated to covering issues around rural development. Jennifer graduated from the Nigerian Institute of Journalism with a degree in Mass Communication and earned a Master of Arts degree from Columbia University. She has published three books: "In Days to Come" (2004), "Preserve my Saltiness" (2011) and "Half A Loaf And A Bakery" (2013). Jennifer currently serves as a full-time writer and communications consultant. Follow Jennifer on Twitter @Disgeneration

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