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WARDC seeks to engage boys, men to end sexual, gender-based violence

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Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi

Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC), has called for partnership between government, institutions, Civil Society Organisations and the community to end Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in Nigeria.

WARDC made this call yesterday during a Capacity-building and consultative meeting with Grassroots women associations and leaders to better engage men and boys on Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG), Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV), harmful practices and women and girls access to sexual rights and health rights, which was sponsored by the Joint European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) Spotlight Initiative.

Speaking during the meeting attended by community women who are leaders of civil society, religious and trade organisations in different parts of Lagos State, founding director, WARDC, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, implored government to show zero tolerance to gender based violence.

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She stressed the need for the roles of traditional and community leaders in Lagos State in the campaign against rape and other gender based violence in the state, noting that community sanctions to discourage raping and rapists will address gender based violence at the community level.

“To address the issue of SGBV, there must be co-ordinated response that will leave no one behind. There must be much more partnership between CSOs, government and private sector. Government must show zero tolerance to Gender Based Violence.

“We believe that having people at the community level spearheading the campaign against Sexual Gender Based Violence and Harmful Practices is to ensure accountability. When rape cases are reported, the people at the community level will make sure they follow it up to make sure that they take social action if the security agencies failed to act when necessary.

“Traditional rulers, religious leaders, community leaders should take the lead in the campaign against rape. We need to engage the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and other men and boys to be able to say no to rape.”

On the Spotlight Project, Afolabi-Akiyode noted that one of its aim is to support the engagement of men and boys. We want to see how we can work with women groups and communicate to men and boys on violence. So, one of the things we plan to do is to build structures through the women in their community.

“Our calculation is that if we train 30 women, they will get it to 30 others and at the end of the day, we will get 900 women who have been sensitised on the dangers of not training the boy child as they would do to the girl child. We are also going to have training for traditional rulers who are the custodians of communities,” she added.

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