Breaking the Silence
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16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign begins November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and ends on December 10.

 

 

 

Pre-16 Days Activity

In commemoration of the 16 Days of Activism 2016, Centre for Gender Studies, Douglass Campus, Rutgers University, New Jersey, in collaboration with AWDF -USA and Project Alert, had a 2 hour session on Women's Experiences of Violence: The Vagina Monologues & the V-Monologues (The Nigerian Story). Some monologues were read from both versions by three of the students, after which The ED Project Alert, did a comparative analysis of the monologues, in their respective context.

 

#16Daysofactivism #Day1

It's International Day on Violence Against Women, which marks the commencement of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence (Nov 25 - Dec 10).

It is a day for reflection for us at Project Alert on Violence Against Women, an organization that came into existence on January 1999, as a result of an identified need. The need to advocate for zero tolerance for all forms of violence against women and girls( and render practical support services to victims and their families. How far have we fared? What has been the challenges? What strategies did we adopt? And how successful were they?

It has been a challenging but rewarding 17 years for us at Project Alert. We may not have solved half of the problems in relation to violence against women and girls in Nigeria, but we have definitely impacted individuals and institutions. It definitely is not business as usual in relation to violence against women, as it used to be in the 90s, when I joined the movement. The silence which used to surround such issues has been broken. It's no longer an all female campaign, as men have also joined. REAL MEN we must add.

We are happy with the progress we have made so far, but we are not resting on our oars. There is still a lot to be done in order for our children, our daughters to live a life free of violence and discrimination. Thus on this first day of the 16 Days of Activism, we call on all to be united in the fight against gender-based violence.

The next victim may be your daughter, sister or mother.

 
#16DaysOfActivism #Day2

Violence against women knows no boundaries as it affects all women and girls irrespective of ethnic, religious, cultural, educational and social status. Violence against women is about power and control.

What can you do to help end violence against women? You can support the course by either donating your time or your resources to organizations working to end it. As a man you can be personally involved by being a positive role model, a mentor; a voice in your community against all forms of violence and discrimination.

BE PART OF THE SOLUTION NOT THE PROBLEM.

 

#16DaysOfActivism #Day3

Gender-Based violence or violence against women is not only physical, sexual and psychological in nature. It also includes harmful traditional practices that abuse the rights and dignity of women which in turn results in or could result in physical or psychological consequences.

These harmful traditional practices include widowhood rites a; girl child disinheritance; male child preference; and Female Genital Mutilation, FGM. Widows should not be subjected to obnoxious practices under the guise of culture and tradition; and widowhood period should not be score settling time. The girl child has a right to inheritance and should not be discriminated against. The girl child should also not be discriminated against at birth and patriarchal cultures that prefer male children should be done away with. FGM which has been outlawed in several states in Nigeria should be enforced.

HARMFUL TRADITIONAL PRACTICES ARW A VIOLATION OF WOMEN'S HUMAN RIGHTS

 

#16DaysOfActivism #Day4

Sexual violence is one major form of gender-based violence. It includes acts such as indecent exposure, rape, gang rape, sexual harassment, incest etc.

Project Alert in 2013 carried out an analysis of 155 cases compiled over a one year period in Nigeria. The analysis revealed that 70% of the victims were children and teenagers ages 0-17 years. There is a silent sexual violence epidemic going on in Nigeria. The victims are mostly children. The perpetrators are 95% people KNOWN, LOVED and TRUSTED by these children. In only about 5% are they strangers.

Child sexual abuse is enhanced by the presence of two factors: ACCESS & OPPORTUNITY. It occurs anywhere and everywhere including homes, schools, religious environments, public places etc.

WE HAVE A DUTY AND A RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT OUR CHILDREN FROM SEXUAL ABUSE AND PUNISH PERPETRATORS

 

#16DaysOfActivism #Day5

Thinking about the sanctity of life via-a-vis the sanctity of marriage. Daily we read comments and posts by people on domestic violence issues and wonder which comes first - life or marriage?

LIFE of course any right thinking person would respond but in several discussions on domestic violence and the actions the victim should take, marriage is most times put first. The right thinking doesn't come in. Why is that so? Marriage for us at Project Alert pales into insignificance when and where life is at risk. A dead man or woman can not be in marriage. He/she will be in the grave.

Directly or indirectly we as parents, friends, relations, pastors, imams, neighbors etc are contributing to women and men dying in marriages when we choose marriage over life in domestic violence situations. NOBODY needs to die or get maimed in marriage.

WE MUST UNITE IN SAYING NO TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

 

#16DaysOfActivism #Day6

Thinking Domestic Violence Comes to the Work Place.

Businesses always have the erroneous belief that what happens in the homes of their staff does not concern them in any way. "Keep your domestic issues outside our doors" they would say. Easier said than done. Domestic violence can and does follow victims and even perpetrators to the work place.

Victims get harassed; receive threatening phone calls; are absent from work due to injuries sustained( and are generally less productive at work. Perpetrators on the other hand get hounded by NGOs such as ProjectAlert Vaw who call on their organizations to take action against their staff for negative (criminal) conduct that portrays the organization in bad light (though the crime didn't take place there).

Domestic violence is a serious and preventable problem just like any other safety and health issues in organizations. The cost implications of it on organizations are huge. Studies have shown that 3 out of 5 times that women take excuses from work is as a result of domestic violence.

In Nigeria, it took the well publicized case of Titiloye Arowolo, a Banker killed by her husband in 2011 for the banking sector to start paying attention to domestic violence issues.

BUSINESSES NEED TO KNOW THAT SUPPORTING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ADVOCACY WORK IS GOOD BUSINESS IN THE COMMUNITIES IN WHICH THEY OPERATE

 

#16DaysOfActivism #Day7

Hmmmmm. Thinking economic crippling of women in the name of love and bringing up good children.

That full time mothers raise the best children is a MYTH. A Patriarchal myth used to keep women financially dependent on their husbands. NO WOMAN should fall victim to "choose between me, the children and work" Any man who places you in that kind of situation is wicked and does not love you. He wants to control you. Why then did you go to school? Was the school fees his parents paid, more expensive than the one your parent's paid? As a woman, you can have the best of both worlds - family/children and work/business. FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE IS A MUST FOR ALL WOMEN. Non negotiable it is.

Economic dependency has resulted in several women feeling they are stuck in abusive relationships. No money to rent a house. No money to feed, clothe the kids and pay school fees. And so they stay and risk physical and/or psychological injuries.

BEING A CAREER WOMAN DOES NOT MEAN YOU WILL NOT BRING UP THE BEST CHILDREN


#16DaysOfActivism #Day8

Thinking walking away from domestic violence .

*"Walking"*
is the best exercise!!! ��
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*Walk Away* �� from
arguments that lead you to nowhere but anger.

*Walk Away* �� from
people who deliberately put you down.

*Walk Away* �� from
any thought that reduces your worth.

*Walk Away* �� from
failures and fears that stiffle your dreams.

*Walk Away* �� from
people who do not care for you and who are opportunistic.

The more you
*Walk Away* �� from
things that poison your soul,
The Happier Your Life Will Be.

*Give Yourself A Walk*��
Towards Happiness. ��

 

#16DaysOfActivism #Day9

Feminism a threat to cultural and traditional practices? Who is afraid of feminism?

This essay by my 16 year old daughter which I posted last year and published in ProjectAlert Vaw e-newsletter, touched both her daddy and I deeply. If we had for a minute forgotten how deep our patriarchal society is based on the social change work we both have been doing over the years, this reminded us. To think that so early in life external forces would attempt to influence the thinking and beliefs you have inculcated in your child is ridiculous and at the same time annoying.

ARTICULE BY AMARACHI CHUKWUMA

'You're a feminist, don't you want to get married?', my 12th grade literature teacher said with a look of revulsion on his face. It was a hot Tuesday afternoon and we had been in the middle of a class before we diverted to the issue of male and female equality. I shrank in embarrassment at the looks of pity and distaste I got from my classmates. To them I had become the embodiment of what mothers feared; the girl who didn't need a man to be happy, I had become someone who needed to be educated on the realities of women and their subservient role. In reality I was not completely surprised by their reaction.

Growing up in an all girl household with a self proclaimed feminist and women rights advocate as a mother, we were taught we could be anything; that we controlled our destiny and that as long as you worked hard; you would succeed. The truth is our society didn't view women the same way my parents did. In school I was told to work hard and be successful but not to forget that the end game was marriage before the age of thirty (because after that you were considered undesirable). Girls were the ones always in the wrong and boys were just innocent bystanders who couldn't help themselves. Students generally accepted this as the way things were but never me even at my detriment. I would go out of my way to prove to people that being a girl did not have to be a curse. Feminism or being a feminist not only became an identity I was ascribed but also one I accepted because it finally gave me the confidence to challenge the norms and forge my own path.

Over the years I have come to realize that I do not have to let my gender or other people’s perception of my gender role to dictate who I am and who I will be. My belief in gender equality and identity as a feminist has shaped the way I think and see the world and its social institutions. It’s pushed me to work harder and be better just so that I can prove I'm just as good as even better than my male counterparts. As I thought about the best essay to write in answer to this prompt, the only thing that came to mind was my identity as a feminist because though it is not a conventional identity, it defines who I am, my thoughts, my actions and I believe it is an integral part of who I am and who I am going to be.

 

#16DaysOfActivism #Day10

Being a Sunday, we are focusing on Faith Based Organizations (FBOs) and their role in advocacy efforts to end all forms of violence against women and girls in Nigeria. Leaders of FBOs have a large role to play in spreading the gospel according to zero tolerance for all forms of abuse against women; and also rendering support services to victims.

For most women (and even men) experiencing problems in their marriages, their religious leaders are the first they turn to for comfort and advice. This being the case, it is this important that Pastors, Bishops, Imams etc are knowledgeable of gender-based violence issues in order for them to be sensitive in their response to cases brought before them. They must not be found wanting in their actions or inactions as these will only send negative signals.

Neither the Bible nor the Quran preaches violence against women and girls. This non of these two Holy Books should be misinterpreted or manipulated to suggest that women must stay and die in abusive relationships; that abuse of young girls should be covered up; that widows should be subjected to harmful traditional practices; and finally between the sanctity of life and marriage, that marriage comes first. NO!!!. It is life before marriage

 

#16DaysOfActivism #Day11

Understanding the Psychological Consequences of Gender-Based Violence, GBV. The psychological and emotional wounds of different forms of GBV especially domestic and sexual violence are devastating. They are devastating not only on women, but also on children.

Domestic violence affects the thoughts, feelings and behavior of its victims. It has significant impact on their mental stability causing increased anxiety, fear, depression and post traumatic stress disorder. Imagine the trauma on children who SEE actual acts of violence; HEAR the threats off violence or fighting noises and things being banged; OBSERVE the aftermath of violence in the home by way of blood; broken tables; chairs and bottles; dead body etc.

Children who are exposed to violence in the home are often fearful and anxious. They never feel safe and are always on the edge, wandering when the next incident will occur and what will trigger it. They feel isolated, vulnerable, sad and depressed, exhibiting physical responses such as incessant headaches, bed wetting etc.

Interestingly while a lot of women use their children as an excuse for staying on in an abusive relationship, the children may be nursing suppressed anger towards their mother for "triggering the abuse" or not doing enough to stop the abuse.

WE MUST BE CONSCIOUS OF THE PSYCHOLOGICAL CONSEQUENCES OF GBV.

 

#16DaysOfActivism #Day12

#EmotionalAbuse
#VerbalAbuse
#DomesticViolence
#AbusiveRelationship
#BreakTheSilence
"It is not the the bruises on the body that hurt. It is the wounds of the heart and the scars on the mind." - Aisha Mirza.

Most people think “abuse” is just physical attacks such as hitting, punching, kicking, pulling hair, twisting limbs, pinching, slapping, biting, etc. There are many other type of abusive behaviour which hurt just as much or more than physical abuse in a relationship.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you determine whether or not you are in an abusive relationship: Does my spouse ever try to physically stop me from leaving the room? Does my spouse ever push me, grab me or my clothing, or hold me against my will? – Has my spouse ever told me to kill myself? Does my spouse ever threaten to hurt me for any reason? Does my spouse ever point a weapon of any kind toward me, our children, or him or herself? Has my spouse ever used language that suggests he or she will "solve” our marriage problems forever through death? Am I afraid of my spouse? These questions are not gender exclusive. If you answered yes to any of them, your marriage is fear based and you are in danger of being a victim of domestic violence. Put a plan together now to get the help you need...

The language we use to communicate with one another is like a knife. In the hands of a careful and skilled surgeon, a knife can work to do great job. But in the hands of a careless or ignorant person, a knife can cause great harm. Exactly as it is with our words.

Injuries from verbal and emotional abuse can run deep and leave lasting scars. Many emotionally and verbally abused people reason that, because there are no bruises or broken bones, their abuse must not be serious. But it is! If pain motivates you to act against emotional and verbal abuse, then listen and act. You may be saving more than your life.

© Adeogun Oluwakayode 2016

 

#16DaysOfActivism #Day13

Sexual Violence in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps

It is indeed sad, inexcusable and unforgivable that government officials - civil and military - involved in various intervention strategies ( food, health, security etc) are neck deep in perpetuating secondary victimization of fellow Nigerians who already had been primarily victimized by Boko Haram.

The criminal activities of government officials who are suppose to bring succor to these already severely traumatized people, is shameful and condemnable. Food items and other reliefs meant for these IDPs are diverted for personal and business purposes, only for male officials at the camp to turn round and sexually abuse women and girls in the camp in exchange for food and other items.

A recent report by an international NGO, Human Rights Watch which revealed 43 cases of abuse and misconduct has led to the arrest of some policemen, military officers, and civilian Joint Task Force officials.

There is an urgent need for an audit of the various government agencies, committees and task forces claiming to be rendering services in these camps, with a view to punishing all those involved in this show of shame; and ensuring that the IDPs are not further traumatized especially the women and young girls.

This is the only way the government can prove to the people that indeed it is committed to the fight against corruption and impunity in Nigeria

 

#16DaysOfActivism #Day14

Support for Sexual Violence Victims in Nigeria

After a woman or girl has been sexually abused, the immediate next steps, by way of support systems available, defines the partial or total recovery of the victim. While primary victimization hurts the victim, secondary victimization (shame, ridiculing, police extortion etc) kills the victim. A young girl in Abia state sometime last year hung herself after her mother blames her for being ganged raped by some friends of hers.

The Justice for All (J4A) project of the United Kingdom Department for International Development, DFID, in the last three years, has helped in setting up Sexual Assaults Referral Centres, SARCs across the country. We at ProjectAlert Vaw are proud to associate with the J4A project that has in the 5 years of its existence impacted lives and communities in the seven (7) states the project was executed

The Country Program Manager of the J4A project, Bob Arnot has this to say:

"Yesterday I was in Kaduna for the Nigerian Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) Network Meeting. Representatives from all over Nigeria with equally harrowing stories regarding their clients but also many brave and committed people working to try and alleviate their suffering and make a change. When J4A started there were no SARCs - by the time we finish there may be as many as 11 (possibly more). When people ask what good does aid money do? You could point out that a tiny fraction went to assist and support over 2500 victims of sexual violence and tried to help them become survivors rather than victims. Of course we need to address root causes and of course we need to do more to ensure survivors get justice and safety (and perpetrators get jail). But the SARCs are an important step in the process of addressing these problems"

 

#16DaysOfActivism #Day15
 
#16DaysOfActivism #Day16 #HumanRightsDay

Today marks the end of this year's 16 Days Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign, an annual event in its 25th year. Today is International Human Rights Day.

Today once again, Project Alert got vindicated that the seed we sewed on May 1, 2001, when we opened the doors of the very 1st Shelter for abused women and girls known as SOPHIA's PLACE, was not a bad one. The seed has since grown to maturity and given birth to several others.

Over the years State and non-state actors have followed the ProjectAlert dream and set up shelters. In 2009, Lagos State government became the first state to set up a shelter. This was followed suit by Pastor Bimbo Odukoya Foundation when they threw open the doors of Hope House Shelter in 2015.

Today it was the turn of Greenland Assistance Haven, a cyber group of passionate individuals - all women, helping other women in abusive relationships LEAVE and LIVE. Founded by Olubunmi Ajai Layode in response to the Ronke Shonde case that happened early this year, the group's major focus is setting up of shelters across the country. At a Summit they organized today on domestic violence, they announced that they have set up shelters in Lagos, Abuja, Ibadan, Port Harcourt and Ilorin.

This is indeed a welcome development, and highly commendable. We are never going to go back to the days when women wishing to flee abusive marriages and relationships stayed on, because of no where to go as family and friends, would sometimes turn their backs on them. NEVER WILL WE GO BACK TO THAT TIME.

Shelters for abused women are transit homes that give women time and space away from their abusers and abusive environment to reflect and think of their victimization, and working with professionals such as Counsellors, Lawyers, Psychologist/Psychiatrist, Doctors etc, decide on what next.

Better to LEAVE and LIVE than to STAY AND DIE.

 

 
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