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Obaseki, others seek deepened advocacy in fight against gender-based Violence

By Michael Egbejule, Benin and Tina Abeku, Abuja
12 December 2021   |   3:31 am
The wife of Edo State Governor, Mrs. Betsy Obaseki, yesterday, called for sustained efforts in the fight against Gender Based Violence (GBV) in Nigeria.

Betsy Obaseki

• Deaf Women Twice Likely Victims Of SGBV, Says Group
The wife of Edo State Governor, Mrs. Betsy Obaseki, yesterday, called for sustained efforts in the fight against Gender Based Violence (GBV) in Nigeria.

Obaseki made the call during the End Gender Based Violence in Nigeria Summit, organised by the Nigeria Academy of Science and the Ford Foundation in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

Speaking on the topic: “Overcoming Political Challenges in the Fight Against Gender Based Violence,” Obaseki commended the support of the Executive and Legislative arms of Edo State Government, as well as the state’s traditional institutions for their support, both in enacting the law and in the ongoing sensitisation about the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law.

This is as the Executive Director, Deaf Women Aloud Initiatives (DWAI), Hellen Beyioku-Alase, said statistics has shown that deaf women are twice likely to be victims of abuse, including Sexual and Gender Based Violence, (SGBV) than their hearing peers.

She made this known at a media briefing in partnership with the Urgent Action Fund (UAF), to mark the United Nations 16-day activism against GBV, yesterday in Abuja.

Beyioku-Alase said: “Deaf women and girls who endure GBV are doubly affected through direct violence, due to barriers they experience in everyday life. Sexual Assault and Referral Centres (SARCs) in Nigeria do not have a sign language interpreter. They also do not know where or how to hire a qualified sign language interpreter, and these are some of the barriers fueling this.”

She noted that recent report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said not less than 700 million individuals will suffer varying degrees of hearing loss by 2050 globally, as deafness has one of the largest disability groups globally, as it affects over 460 million people.

The Edo State First Lady, who noted that GBV is rooted in native laws and customs, which generally favour men, said it is critical to forge close relations and ties with certain critical players in the society, if meaningful change will be seen in this regard.

She, however, celebrated the success achieved in Edo State, including the approval of special courts and a dedicated prosecuting team for GBV cases by the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, in a bid to ensure timely dispensation of justice for victims of GVB in the state.

Earlier, President of the Nigerian Academy of Science, Prof. Ekanem Braide, in her speech, lamented the high rate of gender-based violence.

“It is worrisome and quite unsettling to come to terms with the fact that aside the general discrimination, women have to contend with being abused and battered. In many African communities, including those in Nigeria, even today societal norms relegate women to the background, as objects to be seen, admired, sometimes exploited but not heard.

“With insecurity in Nigeria disrupting family lives, and ongoing pandemic bringing more hardships, women need to be rescued quickly, at least from this added burden called Gender Based Violene…”

She commended the Nigerian Governors Wives’ Forum for deciding to at least remove this burden from women. The Programme Officer, Gender, Racial and Ethnic Justice, Ford Foundation, Mrs. Olufunke Baruwa, while calling for sustenance of the progress made, said: “We must leverage this current outreach against GBV. I think this is one of the few celebrations we have had to mark the 16 days of activism, where there has been constant talk and constant action around GBV, and we must sustain this momentum.”

Baruwa said: “At Ford Foundation we are definitely not just talking about it, and I stand here on behalf of the Ford Foundation office for West Africa to say that we will continue to put our money where our mouth is in eradicating GBV because voice must be matched with action…”