Martins Ifijeh

Following a study done by the Women At Risk International Foundation (WARIF), which showed that 81 per cent of teenage boys believe a rape survivor is responsible for the abuse because of her mode of dressing; and that nearly 100 per cent of boys are involved in alcohol and substance abuse, the organisation says it has started educating boys on drugs and sexual violence.

The study, which focused on secondary school boys between the ages of 13 and 18 years, also showed that one in four boys are survivors of rape and sexual violence; one in five boys will walk away rather than intervene when they see a girl being harassed; among other shocking revelations.

Stating this during a press conference to commemorate the 2018 World Refugee Day in Lagos, the Founder, WARIF, Dr. Kemi Dasilva-Ibru, said a new initiative, Boys Conversation Café, sponsored by Diamond Bank Plc, has now been launched to address the disturbing discoveries.

She said the initiative is designed to educate young boys on the prevalence of sexual violence in Nigeria, and to change perception and behavioral pattern that exist amongst this group of boys, on violence against women.

“The WARIF Boys Conversation Café took informal dialogue sessions with cohort groups of secondary school boys, while vetted male volunteers were recruited from different organisations to serve as mentors at these café sessions.

She said, “At the end of first session with students of Surulere secondary school, the WARIF Boys Conversation Café, recorded an outstanding outcome with 98 per cent of the beneficiaries strongly agreeing to taking a stand in any case of sexual abuse rather than just be bystanders.

“85 per cent of the boys strongly agreed that consent of a girl to have sex is important and should be respected. Further results showed that the use of banned drugs like Tramadol and Codeine should be dropped, by a whopping 66 per cent.”

On the issue of gender based violence in Nigeria, DaSilva-Ibru there are no existing curriculum in schools that directly address these topics for boys.

She noted that a lot of attention is given to women and girls to protect themselves against sexual abuse as opposed to teaching boys and men not to become perpetrators of sexual violence.

“With the introduction of this initiative, we intend to change the existing attitudes and behavior of young boys on the topic of rape and sexual violence.

“Through mentoring and education, we can change the narrative of these young men who will then grow up to become productive members of their communities”

The Coordinator, Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team Lagos (DSVRT), Mrs. Lola Vivour Adeniyi said: “At DSVRT, we believe strongly in positive masculinity. We found that unconsciously, we put a lot of awareness on girls and how we can protect them, teaching them how to be safe, and how they can protect themselves from sexual abuse. But we usually leave the boys behind, which should not be the case, as statistics have shown that it is mostly boys who grow to be perpetrators of abuse, and they also get sexually abused too.

“So, we are excited about the WARIF Boys’ Conversation Café, and we will be partnering with WARIF to cascade these café conversations across the 6 education districts in Lagos. ” she added.