Triple 16 Celebration For Project Alert
IT was triple 16 celebration for Project Alert On Violence Against Women last Saturday in Lagos. Embedded in the celebration of its 16th year of existence as a non-governmental organisation committed to promoting and protecting the rights of women and young girls. Another was the celebration that marked this year’s 16 Days of Activism on gender violence, a global event. It was also used to honour 16 survivors of various gender-based violence and their families with awards.
Executive Director of Project Alert On Violence Against Women, Josephine Effah-Chukwuma, said it was an auspicious time to express “great joy and profound gratitude to God” for coming this far in its journey of advocating zero tolerance for all forms of violence against women.
Effah-Chukwuma went down memory lane to highlight how in 1999 she founded Project Alert along with five other women from various professions who formed the Board of Trustee of the organisation to “promote and protect the rights of women and young girls in Nigeria in particular, and Africa in general” and thanked all those who have contributed in various ways to the successes they have recorded.
Since then, according to her, it has committed itself to providing information, rendering practical support services to victims/their families and survivors of various in various forms, recording remarkable imprints in the campaign against gender-based violence. It started the first shelter for abused women in Nigeria in 2001. It has rendered legal aid to 1100 women and families, and sheltered over 500 women.
Out of the huge number rendered assistance, the 16 women and their families were celebrated that day because they refused “to be silenced by fear and stigma, battered into submission by religion and culture; and threatened by their families, communities and various state agencies.” Among them were those that have suffered abuses such as domestic violence and sexual abuses.
Delivering the keynote address, Head, Educational Foundation and Administration, University of Lagos, Prof. Ngozi Osarenren commended Effah-Chukwuma for translating her passion of how to stop violence against women into reality.
She noted that all classes of women; rich and poor, educated and uneducated, are subjected to different abuses, and equally blamed women for not resisting when abuses are visited on them.
Osarenren said that rejection of violent abuses of women would leave the society a better place, and charged the female gender not to accept the excuse that the increase in rape is because of the way they dress.
Nollywood actress, Kate Henshaw noted that places such as homes, schools and places of worship are key in dissemination of information on the importance of not meting violence on the female gender. She urged parents to work hard to change the narrative by teaching the boys to respect the female gender.
Founder, Woman of Substance Empowerment Initiative, Dr. Memuna Kadiri, said that it requires the effort of everyone to deal with domestic violence, stressing however, that women have a role to play in curbing it by talking to the boys as a way of redefining the story.
Against the backdrop of complaints of the police not dealing squarely with cases of violence against a woman brought to them, the Divisional Police Officer, Festac Town, Lagos CSP Monday Agbonika said that in real practice, it is the duty of the police to listen to her, protect her, and prevent her from getting back to the source of her abuse, adding however, that poverty in some cases becomes a constraint in protecting her by ensuring justice is done, as the woman may not be economically empowered.
Agbonika added the police is tackling the issue through the modern police project which has a family support units to help with all forms of support from Ministry of Justice. There are also 30 police stations in Lagos with juvenile welfare sections.
He said the way out is collaboration with organisations such as Project Alert to help the police officers and victims deal with the issues appropriately.
A book detailing the experiences of survivors of various forms of violence titled, Our Stories, was launched at the event.
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