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EU tasks media on violence against women, girls

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Protesters in one of the demonstrations against violence on women and girls

European Union Ambassador to Nigeria, Ketil Karlsson, has urged the media to play a leading role in ending violence against women and girls in the country.

Speaking during a virtual conference with the theme, The Role of the Media in Promoting Accountability to end Violence Against Women and Girls, as part of the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, Karlson noted that persistent sociocultural norms and values, which sustain sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) prevent victims from seeking justice.

He observed that this year, more than ever, the world has witnessed a tremendous rise in domestic violence, a phenomenon amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Represented by Clement Boutillier, the EU envoy stated that this crisis must not lead to backtracking on the rights for women and girls, he also stressed the need to invest in a better future for all.

He said: “Breaking the culture of silence is one of the most important ways of creating an enabling environment for women to speak out and report cases of gender-based violence.

“Far too often, issues of gender-based violence are silenced as a result of the fear for what reaction of family members and society would be. The majority of women who have experienced sexual or physical violence in Nigeria did not seek help or support. We would be reminded that for every case reported, many go unreported.”

According to him, the media has a role to hold decision makers to account for the many great commitments that have been made over the past few months.

He said, “the media needs to bring these issues on the agenda and in raising awareness at all levels of society. Media has a wide reach, also reaching vulnerable populations in their own language and via accessible media like radios. The media plays an important role in shaping narratives, while at the same time; misinformation is more widespread than ever before.

“So, media houses have a professional responsibility to be sensitive to issues of GBV, to speak out and to report on GBV cases appropriately, while protecting the identity of victims and being careful of not doing harm to survivor.”

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Also speaking, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins” urged the media to champion healthy debates and conversions that would bring about right action to curb gender-based violence in the country.

Hawkins told the media to take advantage of the freedom of Information Act to break the silence around violence against women and girls.

On his part, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, observed that the media has a critical role to play in ending violence against women and girls, adding that the media is very powerful to the extent that they set the agenda and give the society what to talk about.

He noted that the country has laws to deal with the issue of violence against women and girls but these laws are not deterrent enough. He said, “the media needs to bring these issues on the agenda and in raising awareness at all levels of society. Media has a wide reach, also reaching vulnerable populations in their own language and via accessible media like radios. The media plays an important role in shaping narratives, while at the same time; misinformation is more widespread than ever before.

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