At roundtable, stakeholders proffer solutions to end SDGBV
Several stakeholders comprising the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) in partnership with the EU Funded Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) Programme and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) that provide services to survivors of Gender, Sexual and Domestic- based violence recently came together to discuss and proffer solutions to end Sexual, Domestic and Gender Based Violence (SDGBV) in Lagos.
Hosting a roundtable forum in Lagos during the week, they sought to strengthen the synergy and collaboration between the DSVRT and the several NGOs that help in fighting SDGBV in the state and beyond.
Head, Data Bank Division, Lagos Bureau of Statistics (LBS), Olayinka Ojo, revealed that defining the indicators for the data set/variables to be collected regarding SDGBV is very key as the indicators summarise complex data into a form that is meaningful for policy makers and the public. “The indicators will provide a simple summary of a complex picture, abstracting and presenting in a clear manner the most important features needed to support informed decision-making.”
Mercy Makinde of Amazing Amazons Initiative shared her experience of how she was married off at 18 to a man almost three times her age where she was promptly abused before gaining strength to leave the marriage and starting an NGO to help other abused and vulnerable women. “At our NGO, we train the women and prepare their minds for the immense battle they are about to face from every quarter.”
Revealing that shelter is one of the major problems survivors face, Josephine Essa-Chukwuma of Project Alert, an NGO that assists and rehabilitates survivors, said 99 per cent of women don’t know where to go or have no place to go when they leave their marriages and they are stuck with their children. “Lack of where to go is what keeps most women in bad marriages. Friends and family don’t want to help so as not to be seen as home wreckers or breaking up a marriage, so they refuse to provide shelter or assistance to these women. Lagos has just one shelter and it is at Igando. Would someone from Epe that needs a place to stay move all the way to Igando and uproot their life? Government needs to provide more shelters in all the local council areas so that women wont need to go very far to access help.”
Adding that silence is the major weapon employed in DV, she pointed out that the root cause of DV is not being dealt with and that is why more and more women are killing their partners when they erupt. “Women keep enduring all sorts of treatment and sometimes, when they react, it has far reaching consequences. No one is really paying attention to the boy child, only the girls, when they grow up and get married/partnered, these problems begin to manifest and we start scrambling for solutions. Why do we refuse to tackle this issue from the very foundation?”
Lamenting that the government is doing very little to solve this problem, she called for improved partnership and urged everyone to step up efforts.
Revealing shocking statistics from a community survey undertaken four years ago, WRAHP revealed that seven percent of women surveyed did not think they should report to the authorities if their husbands/family members rape their daughters while a whopping 40 percent said they had experienced SGDBV. 77 percent said they would report if they or someone they knew were a victim of SDGBV, but unsurprisingly, just two percent of SDGBV cases were actually reported. Of the people polled, only half were aware of the existence of the domestic violence law.
Putting forwards a blue-print which would be taken to the government for enforcement, stakeholders present agreed to form a united front, have a united referral form for cases, form an umbrella body to regulate activities, hold interactive sessions bi-annually and develop an information portal that members can access. Other steps agreed upon include continuous capacity building sessions for NGOs, continuous retraining of enforcement agencies concerned, improved funding through CSR initiatives, online directories, quarterly meetings, attendance of other NGO’s events and renaming the Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation to Ministry of Family Affairs.