“Hey guys! What’s up? There is a babe I have been stalking for some weeks now. I eventually asked her out. But disappointingly, she turned me down,” Dehinde said.
Ade responded saying, “really? She turned down a big and fresh boy like you? Do you know where she lives? Let us hunt her down to show her that she is nothing!”
The conversation above, though fictional, is an apt representation of some of the gender based violence that young girls, ladies and women in our society live with today. Sadly so because not so many people have really got involved in challenging the status quo like the Ekiti State government has been doing, mostly through the Office of Her Excellency, the First Lady of Ekiti State, Erelu Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi.
The United Nations General Assembly 1993 declaration defines Gender Based Violence (GBV) “as any act of Gender-Based violence that results in, or is likely to result in physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering to men or women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life”. Violence is not a unitary occurrence, but takes different forms as the definition clearly states.
FEMALE-GENDER BASED VIOLENCE (FGBV)
The Female-Gender Based Violence (FGBV) ranges from domestic violence to forceful marriage, rape, forced prostitution, early female child marriage and any other inhumane act targeted at the female gender. How about Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)? As a result of FGM, many women and girls die or have their reproductive organs permanently damaged due to the erroneous believe that the act enables a woman to be less promiscuous later in life and more marriage-eligible. This is totally false.
A study recently commissioned by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Social Development and the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA), Nigeria with support from the Norwegian Government found out that 28% of Nigerian women aged 25-29 have experienced some form of physical violence since age 15. This is very huge compared to statistics from other places. The same study also reports that 15% of women experienced physical violence within 12 months. “The level of exposure to the risk of violence varied based on marital status, and that 44% of divorced, separated or widowed women reported experiencing violence since age 15, while 25% of married women or those living with their spouses have experienced violence,” the UNPFA report says.
MALE-GENDER BASED VIOLENCE (MGBV)
The issues relating to the Male-Gender Based Violence (MGBV) are not as pronounced in our society compared to the females’ but they exist within our society. Reports affirm that men are at less risk of rape, but some men are wrongly accused of rape. Sadly, some male children are abused in similar ways by older girls or stronger women. The male gender do not only suffer from physical violence but also emotional and economic abuse.
One fast rising issue that has been argued in some quarters as a MGBV is the harassment of mostly young innocent men by security personnel, lately by men of the State Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
ROLE OF GOVERNMENT
Every government has a responsibility to protect the rights, life and properties of their citizens. In order to prevent and practically address the issue of gender based violence, the government must lead the fight against perpetrators and also serve as a succor to victims. Right from tightening laws to its enforcement, the punishment of offenders should be stepped up to serve as a deterrent to others.
Fortunately for the people of Ekiti State, there is a leading voice in the current administration and a person who is immensely working hard to combat and eradicate gender-based violence in the state. Words cannot fully express my appreciation to the First Lady of Ekiti State, Erelu Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi who has passionately been creating awareness against GBV in the state, and has also been working actively towards enshrining zero tolerance for GBV. The First Lady has pioneered and led many rallies, campaigns, sensitization, webinars and awareness programmes in this regard. A recent example of this, is the Ekiti Women Arise (EWA 2020).
Notably, the 25th November, 2011 witnessed the signing into law by Governor Kayode Fayemi, a bill prohibiting gender-based violence in Ekiti State. With this great and highly commendable legislation, Ekiti became the first state in the Country to pass such law which seeks to protect both genders against physical, psychological abuse and violence. In addition to this, a register of sex offenders has been floated recently in the state. This is very commendable.
The Ekiti State Government also has a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) named “Moremi Clinic”, which is set up to help victims of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in the state.
ROLE OF CITIZENS
To effectively fight Gender-Based Violence, we must realize and understand that it is a battle to be fought by both the citizens and the government. Parents need to step up responsibility of educating their children (male and female) on gender-based violence and what it means to our society. Preventive measures should start early in life, by educating young boys and girls to promote respectful relationships and gender equality.
Citizens who are victims must be willing to report and expose perpetrators to the constituted authority. Victims should also be encouraged by loved ones to speak out, pursue prosecution of offenders, and even lead campaigns against GBV by telling their stories.
Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is a world-wide ravaging issue that damages victims physically, emotionally, socially and mentally. Luckily for us in Ekiti State, we have a government that is interested in fighting this menace head on. If we must achieve desirable results, every citizen must recognize their role and complement existing efforts to win this war.