Gender-Based Violence (GBV) violates human rights. It is an act that involves directing harm, maltreatment, and other human-defacing actions against someone because of their gender position.
It embodies sexual, emotional, physical, psychological, and other forms of abuse. Threats, coercion, battering, abuse of privacy and other human rights violation are common traits. It deprives victims of the opportunity to exist wholly in the society.
According to The World Bank, GBV affects 1 out of every 3 women in their lifetime and 35% of women worldwide have experienced one of physical or sexual abuse. In Nigeria, the most GBV acts against women include sexual harassment, physical violence, Female Genital Mutilation, and emotional violence.
Gender-Based Violence (GBV) erodes the collective efforts to build a society where there’s no violation of individuals’ rights. The fight against this subtle enemy of gender coherence will continue until victory is assured.
Several organizations, advocates, and agencies have researched approaches to mitigate the prevalence of GBV in our societies. In addition, organizations are adapting on-field strategies to ensure success.
Here is a story of our success in reducing GBV incidences in one of the focal communities through community dialogue and awareness. It pleases us to tell you that community participation and willingness to fight against this evil act paved the way for unimagined success.
Gender-Based Violence in Ibadan South West
“Please help me, my child has been raped by a neighbor” was the comment from a family head living within our focal community project area in Ibadan South West LGA of Oyo State. This LGA plays host to the most volatile communities that are known for violence and abuse of women and girls.
Prior to our engagement under the APIN-CDC OVC project grant, the incidence of rape and violence against women was rife. Incessant calls made the early morning and late-night song at our office and shelter facility. It is estimated that 1 child (5-16) or woman is abused every 6 hours and 10 every week in the community.
LIWOM in the past has partnered with the community medicine unit of the University College Hospital (UCH) to respond to the situation. However, the volatile nature of these communities – hosts to the most horrible street touts in Oyo State – affected sustainability and continuity.
This had cost the entire communities loss of lives of women and girls, increased school drop out by girls (10 girls drop out of school per month due to teenage pregnancy as reported by the Child Protection Committee). Overall, the vulnerable condition of affected VC increased even in the presence of interventions.
A Community-Driven Response
Consequent upon the implementation of the APIN-CDC OVC project, LIWOM mapped the community to identify key stakeholders to respond to Gender-Based Violence concerns. In collaboration with relevant stakeholders, we identified key households and survivors of Gender-Based Violence (GBV).
We participated in several capacity-building activities during which we modelled sustainable problem-solving strategies. These strategies leveraged the existing resources and community structures to provide timely responses, with a keen focus on prevention.
LIWOM went on to support the Child Protection Committee in the LGA who regularly assisted with preventive identification that has resisted community structures e.g. Okada Riders etc. Similarly, we sensitized the Community Development Committee, Community Leaders, and Religious entities for a preventive response.
Greenlight in Tackling GBV
Sequel to the gender mainstreaming into HIV/Aids programming, LIWOM decided to engage such stakeholder structures like the Okada Riders Association in the communities.
We carried out advocacy visits to their leaders and consequently conducted a gender-balanced community dialogue forum where we considered issues regarding GBV and its factors. Similarly, we made decisions and recommended strategies to address GBV from a multi-sectoral perspective.
The bike riders highlighted key issues they have with caregivers and parents and agreed that they would address their members with punitive measures to check erring members.
Our collective efforts ensured that there was:
- Increased level of awareness of anti-GBV perception in the communities
- Reduction of the incidence of GBV cases
- Increased safety for girls and women in the communities “since this project started, LIWOM has made us know the importance of protecting women and girls, how to do it and we are doing it” “our women and girls are now safer than before” Foko community leaders.
- Increased opportunity for a paradigm shift on gender norms
“For LIWOM, this activity was a huge success story under the project as we have been able to strengthen the community child protection structure and bring gender-based violence down by 10%. Thanks to the APIN-CDC project” (Pastor Marcus – LIWOM).
It doesn’t stop here, play your part!
Tackling Gender-Based Violence doesn’t end with community structures and charity organizations alone. It requires the joint efforts of everyone – individual such as you are most vital in this fight. This is because you’re part of the society and anyone can be a victim.
And most concerning is the subtle means which most perpetrators execute these acts. Hence, in your home, street, environment, locality, office, etc., raise the arm of strength against GBV!