By Victor Ogunje
To ensure the robust implementation of gender-based violence (GBV) laws in Ekiti State, government and a civil society organisation (CSO), Gender Relevance Promotion Initiative (GRIP), have advised contractors handling projects in the state to warn their workers against sexual exploitation.
They said available statistics globally confirmed that there were high incidences of sexual harassments and exploitative tendencies in areas where projects are being undertaken, adding that this calls for a proactive action to avert such in Ekiti owing to a series of contracts being currently executed in the state.
This came as Governor Kayode Fayemi has ordered the deployment of GBV enforcement officers to ministries, departments and agencies of government, to ensure compliance with the laws to bring violence in the facets of gender inequality, rape and sexual harassment to a decline.
The Commissioner for Information, Muyiwa Olumilua, and GRIP Executive Director, Mrs Rita Ilevbare, gave the admonition in Ado Ekiti on Friday, at a one day training tagged: ‘GVB/Sexual Exploitation and Abuse on the third National Urban Water Sector Reform Projects (NUWSRP 3)’.
While speaking at the event organised by GRIP in collaboration with the Ekiti State Water Corporation, Ilevbare said the time has come for all stakeholders to unite against sexual harassment, female genital mutilation, child trafficking, slavery, prostitution and other scourges affecting the country.
Ilevbare added that government and the World Bank’s huge investment in water provision in Ekiti can put pressure on both the services and the people living in the project area, thereby causing negative tendencies, which she said, must be prevented from happening.
“It is important therefore that in the effort to provide safe water to people in Ekiti State, risks that labour influx will induce, including the negative gender impacts, sexual exploitation and abuse are anticipated and measures to address these are incorporated into the project planning and implementation.
“An influx of workers to the water project sites can create new demand for various services, including sex workers, which can ultimately increase the prevalence of sexual exploitation, gender-based violence (GBV), trafficking and disease transmission, especially HIV/AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases,” she said.
Also speaking, the Information Commissioner, Olumilua, represented by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Dr. Adekumbi Obaisi, said the government won’t tolerate or sweep under the carpet, any issue relating to sexual abuse or gender inequality.
“To underscore how serious we are, there are designated officers in all ministries, departments and agencies of government to implement GBV and equal opportunities laws, 2020 .
“People should expose GBV defaulters. You could all attest to the fact that Governor Fayemi’s government has been shaming sexual offenders. Defaulters now suffer life imprisonment in Ekiti, this shows that Ekiti has zero tolerance for gender violence,” Olumilua said.
The state’s Coordinator of NUWSRP 3, Mr. Olukunle Siwoku, represented by NUWSRP 3 Social Safeguard Specialist, Mr. Akinsola Oladipo, and Environmental Safeguard Specialist, Eric Odinakachi, said the World Bank had instructed that every humanitarian project should be executed in a manner that won’t violate the citizens’ rights .
Siwoku said: “That was why we established public complaints offices immediately we began water reticulation project in Ado Ekiti metropolis for whoever has issue with our workers to lodge their complaints. We also guard our labourers against actions like rape, financial exploitation, threat and drunkenness to give bite to GBV in Ekiti.”