By Chinonso Alozie, Owerri
Participants at the Gender- Based Violence, GBV, and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, SRHR, workshop in Owerri, Imo State, said the time has come to expose all forms of domestic violence against women.
The workshop which was attended by media practitioners as well as members of Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, was organised by Coalition of Eastern NGOs, CENGOs.
It was agreed that to end some forms of traditional practices that violate women’s rights, that the media should continue to expose such incidents by highlighting the causes and effects of such ugly trend.
It also noted that in some cases, women also abuse men and that the media should also bring it to the public view, so that it would be holistically addressed.
The police was also identified as a veritable organisation in ending the fight against domestic violence in that state. One of the facilitators, Mrs Nnennaya Enyinnaya-Eneremadu, told South-East Voice that ignorance of the law on the part of the victims or relatives had contributed to the increased violence against women.
She added that in a case of rape, families of the victims find it difficult to prosecute the case due to the issue of stigmatisation of the victim.
Eneremadu looked at gender-based violence as “Any lawful act that is perpetrated against a person’s will that is based on society’s ascribed differences between males and females.”
She mentioned rape, assault and harassment as part of the violence.
Others are: “physical hitting, slapping and beating. She also emphasised harmful traditional practices one of which she said was “forced marriage.”
Eneremadu took time to explain to South-East Voice some of the negative effects, some of which are unwanted pregnancies, complications from unsafe abortions, STIs/ HIV/AIDs, mental health and possible sucide.”
It was her view that, “Lack of awareness, secrecy to avoid stigma/discrimination, societal justification instead of condemnation of Sexual Gender-Based Violence, SGBV, remained factors encouraging the ugly trend.
“Continued practice of tradition and cultural activities that support SGBV, level of understanding, ignorance about the laws/absence of laws to address SGBV.”
She argued that “gender equality does not mean that men and women are the same but that women and men’s rights, responsibilities and opportunities will not depend on whether they are born male or female.”
Speaking also, the Imo State, Coordinator of CENGOS, Mr. Ahamdi Okpara, said: “As we truly appreciate the conditions, pressures and demands of your daily work, we also believe we all can study the perspectives presented and at the end of the day, improve on our respective work.
“A few questions you may ask yourselves are, how may my future media reporting encourage the breaking of survivors’ silence on issues of sexual abuse which may include rape? We know most survivors fail to report cases of sexual abuse on account of the associated stigma. So, how may my future reporting help to address that?
“Most likely, we have heard or read the statement, “Out of sight, out of mind.” We may read this in the particular context of sexual abuse.
“Most sexual abuse acts are committed out of sight hence people are mostly not made aware or informed of the existence” of the perpetrators, simply because the acts are “non-existent” on account of the silence held by survivors.
“The most important precondition needed by perpetrators of sexual abuse is doubtless, secrecy. Therefore, breaking the idea in the minds of perpetrators that secrecy would grant repeated opportunity for abuse is key to the solution – drastically reducing sexual abuse.
“The issue of gender is dynamic. As society evolves, we must find ways, so long as we deem them appropriate and conscionable, to evolve with it. Let us also, based on emerging principle, always put the survivors of sexual abuse first; also considering that as reporters, you can play a large role in the healing process of survivors of sexual abuse.”