05 February 2020

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Every day we open our newspapers, we read about a woman or girl who has been sexually abused. Gender based violence is no respecter of age, class or education. Experts on Violence against Women will tell you that there are three main forms of Violence against Women: Physical, Sexual & Psychological.

If a woman or girl has experienced any of these, it can be said that she is a victim of violence. Conventional statistics put victims of one or a combination of these forms of violence at 1 out of 3 women. Why should we care about Violence against Women?

  • We should care because it destroys women’s lives.
  • It leaves women scarred and scared for the rest of their lives.
  • It erodes self-esteem and confidence.
  • It brings educational opportunities to a halt
  • It diminishes the capacity of women to fulfill their full potential.
  • It destroys families and communities.
  • It affects our economy.
  • It increases HIV/AIDS rates, transmission of STDs, serious health conditions, commercial sex work and numbers of people suffering from mental health disorders.

Women who are victims of violent sexual crimes are afraid to report for fear of stigma, blame and rejection. As in many other parts of the world, when the cases are reported, it takes so much effort to get a conviction, the process leaves the victims feeling assaulted all over again. When there is no justice, they do not get closure and the healing process takes so much longer. With no sanctions for violent sexual assaults, a culture of impunity continues to thrive.

Today we are faced with a sexual violence crisis of unprecedented proportions in this country. Male entitlement to women’s bodies, violent conflict, kidnappings, drug abuse, alcoholism, cultism and several other factors all fuel gender based violence.


  1. Address structural and underlying causes of violence against women


  • We need to stop fueling practices, beliefs and stereotypes that undermine the physical and emotional well-being of women and girls. All harmful traditional practices which minimize the personhood of women should be avoided. Their time has passed. Widow abuse, FGM, child marriage, male preference, disinheritance of women and so on, are not compatible with the doctrine of inalienable human rights.


  • Gender equality continues to remain a priority. Women’s economic empowerment and their full and equal participation in public and political life are vital for addressing the structural causes of violence against women and girls.


  • Parents should raise their daughters with a healthy dose of self-respect and self-esteem. Girls and boys should be raised with an understanding of equal responsibilities, obligations and mutual respect. Parents, especially mothers, should be wary of how your daughters are looked after in your absence. Listen to your daughter if she tells you about inappropriate behavior and take action immediately.


  • Families of victims should not accept the ‘Rape and Beg’ syndrome. It fuels impunity and does not bring closure.


  • Boys and men need a new understanding and definition of masculinity. Our societies need strong men who can be providers, carers and nurturers of values that embody respect and accountability. There should be no place for those who derive their power from the abuse, exploitation and intimidation of women and girls.



  1. Provision and implementation of strong legal and policy frameworks


As mentioned above, there have been some attempts made to address violence against women in Nigeria, through the adoption of relevant laws at federal and state level.  However, implementation and enforcement of these laws remains woefully inadequate, creating the basis for a pervasive culture of impunity. We still have significant gaps and challenges, and we should all be concerned about our lack of institutional capacity to enforce laws and policies. Inadequate implementation frameworks, lack of reliable data, lack of financial, technical, material and human resources, lack of cohesion and coordination, insufficient analysis and research, lack of continuity, and much more, make implementation extremely difficult.


  1. Synergy of multi-sectoral and inter-agency services


A key challenge in the implementation of strategies to prevent violence against women or to support and rehabilitate survivors, is the lack of inter-agency collaboration and capacity. Without these, efforts to address this issue, no matter how well meaning, will not be sustainable. The following issues should therefore be addressed:

  • Inter-agency collaboration to provide counselling, pyscho-social support, therapy and rehabilitative services for survivors of gender based violence. We badly need competent health care services, counselling and therapy facilities, well-resourced shelters and half-way houses, and skilled personnel all working together with a common goal.


  • There are many civil society organisations, women’s organisations, religious and social groups who have played a role in addressing violence against women in various capacities. There is however a need to work together to exchange information and identify mutual strengths, gaps, overlaps and areas of collaboration, to avoid working at cross purposes.


  • One of the greatest impediments to success is the pervasive culture of impunity. Our law enforcement agencies and criminal justice system need to play a more active role in this, because with things as they are now, chances of securing convictions in cases of sexual assault are very slim. When cases fizzle out due to a combination of lack of forensic evidence, lack of commitment on the part of law enforcement, indifference of the judiciary and pressure from the families and associates of suspects, this prevents other victims of sexual assaults from coming forward, and leaves perpetrators with a feeling of invincibility, paving the way for future attacks on other victims.


  • Ekiti State is developing one stop GBV Center that will ensure provision of a broad range of services to survivors of GBV. All agencies who are the first to deal with victims of sexual assault such as the police and health care providers, should have the capacity to handle cases with the utmost sensitivity, there should be appropriate tools to collect forensic evidence such as Rape Kits, and those who have this training need to be kept within the system for as long as is feasible.


  • The media has played a key role in addressing issues of violence against women and girls, and many stories carried by various media institutions have led to public outrage and action. However, there is still a lot of work to be done with the media in this regard. Training and sensitisation on how to report stories of violence and abuse, how to protect the identities of survivors, and consistent follow-up to expose conspiracies and acts of impunity is very important. Investigative journalism is becoming a dying art in this country, and this is one of the ways in which the media can support this agenda.



  1. Community Engagement


  • All our best intentions will amount to nothing if communities do not own the issue of violence against women and girls. We have to make the necessary investments in sensitization and awareness raising to make everyone a stakeholder in this issue. Every abused woman or girl is someone’s mother, daughter, wife, sister, and friend. Communities, especially in rural areas, should be sensitized to work with relevant bodies on a range of intervention strategies such as mediation, counselling, reporting incidents of abuse, legal literacy, aiding the criminal justice system, and providing a strong support network for survivors of abuse. Communities should not take laws into their hands, but they should be prepared to support the implementation of laws and not obstruct justice which is what happens in many instances.


  • We need to work closely with our traditional rulers and make them partners in progress. Some traditional rulers are keen to uphold positive cultural values and frown on acts of violence against citizens. They can be encouraged to persuade their subjects to shun harmful traditional practices. We should try as much as possible to seek allies amongst them. There are also groups of female chiefs (both traditional and honorary) in some of our communities who are seen as role models for other women and who command respect. They too can be coopted to support our community based advocacy efforts. The many women’s associations, networks and age-grade unions should also make this part of their agenda. The time has come for us to be our sister’s keeper and not the ones mounting surveillance on other women, turning ourselves into foot soldiers in the army of patriarchal oppression.


  • Our religious institutions have a vital role to play in supporting these issues. It is very sad to note that some religious leaders perpetrate and perpetuate acts of violence against women and children. We need all religious bodies to take a firm stance against gender based violence, and work with their congregations to provide the necessary support, in ways which do not continue to endanger the lives of women and children.


  • There is a lot of work that needs to be done to draw in men as allies in the efforts to address Gender based violence.



For this agenda to be actualized, we need one critical issue – strong political will. Without political will, we will not see any traction on any of these proposals. Political will is what will determine the level of financial, technical and material investments in eradicating gender based violence. Political will leads by example and models the way for a culture of impunity to end.

  • Ekiti State became the first state to domesticate the National Gender Policy in October 2011
  • The Gender Based Violence Prohibition Law was signed in November 2011 and replaced with a stronger version in October 2019
  • The Family Court was established in 2012
  • A Shelter and Rehabilitation Center for women was opened in 2013
  • The Equal Opportunities Law was signed in December 2013.
  • The GBV Law made provision for a Survivor’s Fund, which helped support over 150 survivors of violence to rebuild their lives. The SF was reactivated in December 2018
  • A Management Committee to implement the GBV law is in place.
  • A Sex Offenders Register was opened in 2014 and reactivated in 2019 by the Ministry of Justice.

I am pleased to inform you that we intend to continue to make Ekiti State a place where there is zero tolerance for all forms of gender based violence. As we call for more political will to end violence against women, we should say, Enough is Enough. How many more of us need to die? How many more need to be kidnapped, raped, tortured, maimed and abused? For how long do we want to continue blaming the victims? Back to changing the story. Sometimes what is needed is a kind word, empathy, an intervention, courage and sacrifice. Remember the statistics- 1 in 3. It could be any one of us.

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