Take action to end violence against women and girls, group tasks traditional, religious leaders
In furtherance of her efforts to end violence against women and girls especially at the grassroots communities, a non-governmental organisation, Initiative for Women and Girls Right Advancement (IWOGRA), has called on religious and traditional leaders to take action to end the ugly trend.
This was the thrust at a Roundtable Engagement with Traditional and Religious Leaders of Chika, Jikwoyi and Dutse Alhaji Communitiy, Abuja, with support from ActionAid Nigeria.
Executive Director, IWOGRA, Nkechi Obiagbaoso-Udegbunam stated that Violence Against Women and Girls is commonly perpetuated in rural communities and these forms of violence have the backing of some cultural and social norms which have lingered on and have continued to relegate women and girls.
She added that the organisation is passionate about addressing issues of Violence Against Women and Girls at the community level in order to give them voices empower them to live without fear and be equipped with access to justice. She enjoined the leaders of the communities to see the engagement as an opportunity use their positions to address this menace.
In other to keep the leaders abreast of interventions IWOGRA has made so far in their communities, the programme officer, Sa’adatu Adamu presented an overview of the project – Strengthening the Capacities of Women’s Right Organisations to Combat Violence Against Women and Girls, (SLOC VAWG) and the activities implemented so far.
Obiagbaoso-Udegbunam presented the Violence Against Women and Girls issues identified by the communities’ women and girls during its engagement with them, which were also confirmed by the men and boys as common forms of violence they perpetuate against women and girls.
According to her, the women and girls of the three communities identified rape and child molestation, men neglecting their responsibilities and abusing women for not performing those responsibilities, maltreatment and abuse of women and girls, parents encouraging/forcing their daughters to commit abortion when they have unwanted pregnancies/Child Abuse, forced marriage, victim blaming/stigmatization, female children being denied their right to education and relegation of women in the family and the community.
The leaders were therefore tasked to come up with action plans and commit to use their offices and positions as traditional and spiritual leaders in addressing the identified forms of violence against women and girls.
His Royal Highness, Bawa Jetta, the Traditional Ruler of Jikwoyi Community commended the organisation for the laudable initiative in his community. He committed to have a meeting with his cabinet members so they can consider the issues identified and develop strategies for addressing them as he is committed to ending all forms of violence perpetuated against women in his community.
While traditional ruler of Chika Community, Chief Istifanus Shegaje is committed to develop laws that will protect women and girls, and also prescribe stiffer punishments for anyone who violates or abuses a woman/girl in the community.
The religious leaders also committed to incorporate sermons that frown at committing violence against women and girls and appealed with IWOGRA to oblige them when they invite the organisation at their religious functions to address the congregation on issues of violence against women and girls.
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