The Document Our History (DOHS) Podcast, recently conducted a sensitization program in conjunction with the Advocates for Children and Vulnerable Persons Network (ACVPN) and the People’s awareness on health foundation in Nigeria (PAHFIN) on the 27th of August 2022 in Abule Odu Community, Alimosho Local Government area of Lagos state.
According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) is, “physical and emotional violence—in the form of force, coercion, threats, and deception – against another because of their sex or gender.” Many victims and survivors of SGBV are women and girls, although men and boys can also be targeted.
Globally more than 30% of women have experienced either physical or sexual and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence. Victims are more likely to experience health issues ranging from birthing complication to depression and anxiety. Violence against women is a significant public health problem as well as a fundamental violation of women’s human rights”.
Abule Odu commmunity; a rural settlement in Alimosho Local Government Area was highlighted to kick off the advocacy campaign since the local government area had the highest cases of sexual and gender based violence cases recorded by partner organizations. ACVPN revealed that it treated 216 cases of sexual and gender based violence in 2020, of which Alimosho local government had the highest sexual abuse rate, the third highest physical abuse cases, highest child neglect cases and highest recorded number of sodomy cases.
Ololade Ajayi, the DOHS podcast host said that “We discovered that most of the victims here were unable to access help initially because of several reasons including; ignorance about their human rights, supposed community gatekeepers who become enablers of abuse, invariably undermining the place of prosecution and conviction, widespread acceptance and exposure to violence, cultural norms about gender inequality, limited information about recognizing abusers and what to do in case of violent experiences. Hence a cycle of violence continues and a barrage of victims keep besieging us”.
This influenced the decision of the DOHS podcast to partner with ACVPN and PAHFIN to employ a grassroot strategy in curbing sexual and gender based violence by carrying out a sensitization and reorientation campaign against SGBV on the 27th of August 2022 in some impoverished communities in Lagos state where the multitude of cases comes up. This is key to the sustainable human development, economic growth, peace and security of Lagos state, and Nigeria as a whole.
Facilitators at the program which included the state government’s Health Educator, religious leaders, community development officials, advocates and medical personnel were able to:
1. Educate the next generation about what to do if they encounter abuse of any kind
2. Teach citizens how to become advocates for ending sexual and gender based violence themselves
3. Create a safe space for victims to share their stories and report abuse
4. Offer counselling as well basic health check up for residents
5. Facilitate placement of women and girls who needed to be rescued and sheltered in government approved facilities
An estimate of three million Nigerian women are victims of intimate partner violence annually, it is therefore safe to say that sexual violence and domestic violence are a scourge in present day Nigeria. The need for mass enlightenment on sensitizing the community on what constitutes domestic and sexual abuse, advocating for legal action against perpetrators of SGBV Cannot be under emphasized. This is the first partnership exercise DOHS podcast organized with the aim of Breaking the cycle of violence, Assisting victims/survivors to realize their full human potential by liberating them as well as Drive economic inclusion for women and girls, giving them an opportunity to live a life free of violence.
The Chief Operating Officer of ACVPN, Ebenezer Omejalile disclosed that “the vision is that at least a hundred women are liberated from potential abuse in Abule Odu community as we build a culture of “see something? Say something, Do something”, in effect, shattering stereotypes about victims shaming and stigmatization and shaming the abuser instead, hence the theme: Speak Up Against Sexual and Gender based Violence (SUASGBV).
Another Facilitator, Blessing Aderemi, who spoke on behalf of PAHFIN highlighted the need for us all to be community gatekeepers and advocates in the fight against sexual and gender based violence.
The Podcast is supported by the Goldstein Center for Human Rights. While the Female and More community sponsored the Podcast host on project implementation. The DOHS Podcast has since started recording and production of its second season with survivors sharing their stories to encourage other victims to speak up, as well as using Bibliotherapy to address the trauma that victims and survivors of SGBV experience, hitherto effectively disabusing their minds. The podcast www.dohspodcast.com is available on Spotify and Google podcasts amongst other podcast hosting platforms.