Michael Olugbode in Abuja
The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Matthias Schmale, yesterday led other members of staff of the organisation and stakeholders in women’s activism on the streets of Abuja to protest the growing cases of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) in the country.
The road walk, which commenced from the United Nations Headquarters in Abuja, saw the group walk through some streets of Abuja with the message: “No Tolerance to Rape, Sexual Violence, Child Sexual Abuse and Sex Trafficking.”
The march organised by the Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF) and UNWOmen was part of the activities lined up to mark the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence in Nigeria.
The ‘16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence’ is an annual international campaign that launches on November 25, aiming to amplify advocacy against all forms of violence, discrimination, and human rights abuses, particularly sexual violence against women and girls. This period concludes on December 10, observed as Human Rights Day.
The protesters, who carried placards with various inscriptions calling for the end of SGBV in the country, also used the opportunity to sensitise the people on the dangers of SGBV as they distributed flyers.
Speaking on the reason for the march, a Consultant Specialist – Obstetrics & Gynecology, Founder of Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF), Dr. Kemi DaSilva-Ibru, said the campaign “aims at creating awareness about the prevalence of rape and sexual violence in our communities and also to put an end to this menace.”
She added that the campaign “is to create awareness about sexual and gender-based violence in communities; to change the negative pre-existing mindset towards rape and sexual violence; to give support to survivors of rape and sexual violence.”
She noted that: “The 5th WARIF March is taking place in 10 cities across the world (Abeokuta, Abuja, Accra, Frankfurt, Lagos, Liverpool, London, Los Angeles, New York and Washington DC.”
She said WARIF is a non-profit organisation founded in 2016 in response to the high incidence of sexual assault, rape, and human trafficking occurring among young girls and women across Nigeria.
She added that the foundation was established to raise awareness and address the prevalence of this problem through the “WARIF Approach”- a unique holistic method of tackling Gender Based Violence through the development and implementation of a series of initiatives, targeting both the intervention/treatment of these affected women, as well as providing preventive measures in education and community service to reduce the high incidence.
She explained that: “The #NoTolerance Campaign was launched on International Women’s Day March 08, 2019, to address the prevalence of Violence against Women in communities across Nigeria. The march seeks to raise awareness globally with a collective voice on the issues of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence.
“Since inception, the march has grown steadily across various cities globally. The last march recorded over 1,600 persons in Lagos. The digital campaign reached an estimated 10 million people on social media,” she added.
Schmale acknowledged the significance of 16 Days of Activism and emphasised the UN’s support for initiatives such as the WARIF’s No Tolerance March to end violence against women and girls.