- A traditional leader of a community in Abuja and five other residents have been presented with awards
- The awards were given to the recipients by a non-governmental organisation Sexual Offences Awareness and Response (SOAR) Initiative
- Members of the Kutunku community in the Gwagwalada area of the Federal Capital Territory also pledged never to tolerate any form of sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls
His Royal Highness Bulus Gomna Kutunku, a traditional leader has bagged an award for his commitment to ending sexual and gender-based violence in the Kutunku community of Gwagwalada area council of the Federal Capital Territory.
Bulus received the award alongside his son, John and five others on Saturday, May 7, during a ceremony which took place at the palace of the traditional leader.
Other recipients of the award are Helen Alfred from the Gwagwalada Area Council; Yusuf Mishebusa, a religious leader in the Kutunku community; Joanna Akpoture, popularly referred to as the town crier for her advocacy skills in ending SGBV; Salihu Musa and Christian Joshua.
The ceremony attended by Legit.ng was organised by the Sexual Offences Awareness and Response (SOAR) Initiative project aimed at pushing zero-tolerance status against SGBV in communities.
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Attaining zero-tolerance to SGBV in FCT communities
At the event themed Pledge Taking Ceremony of Zero-Tolerance Status Against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence on Women and Girls, the executive director of SOAR Initiative, Chinyere Eyoh, said the aim of the project is to, by all means, prevent cases of SGBV.
Eyoh, represented by Annette Pwajok, the operation manager of SOAR Initiative, said the organisation is focused on achieving two key things.
"We try as much as possible with all our activities, and all our projects to achieve two things - to prevent these issues from even happening at all and if it happens, we aim to help people who have been abused survive the trauma."
According to the United Nations, an estimated one out of three women experience either physical or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence throughout their lifetime.
The UN said these figures are mirrored in Nigeria, with 30 per cent of girls and women aged between 15 and 49 reported to have experienced sexual abuse.
According to the UN, insurgency and prolonged conflicts have only served to increase the occurrence of GBV in the country, especially in the northeast region.
It also said that harmful practices such as child marriage are prevalent in Nigeria, with 43 per cent of girls married before the age of 18, while 20 per cent of women aged 15 to 49 have undergone female genital mutilation.
Continuing, Eyoh said the SOAR Initiative's campaign also aims to ensure that women and girls are not trapped in the past ordeals they witnessed in the hands of perpetrators of SGBV.
"We want them to make something beautiful out of their lives, SGBV cases are usually a life-changing experience and you find survivors struggling to get their lives back on track.
"Quite a number of them do not amount to anything good in life, not because they cannot but because they never overcame the trauma of the issue they face due to the exposure."
Eyoh highlighted some of the strategies deployed by the SOAR Initiative, including a community approach, to ending SGBV in three different communities of the FCT.
Educating parents, guardians and community members on dangers of SGBV
According to her, parents and guardians including husbands in the community need to be adequately enlightened to end SGBV.
"If you look at it most of the parents in these communities have not or barely acquired the basic education and know nothing about these things, in social media, they are also really not there.
"So the idea is to come and meet them in their own space and educate them about these things. But we are not just talking, the strategy we have deployed is to set up child protection committees (CPC) in the community."
Noting that the CPC is made up of trusted residents, selected by members of the communities themselves, Eyoh said the approved committee members are trained by SOAR Initiative as mentors to guide and protect women and young girls in the area.
She added that the mentors are also trained to counsel young girls and women in the communities by educating them about preventing SGBV and ways to seek help should any incident occur.
Religious leader commits to ending SGBV
Also speaking to Legit.ng, one of the award recipients, Yusuf Mishebusa, a religious leader in the Kutunku community admitted that ignorance has been the major challenge to addressing the issue of SGBV in Nigeria.
Mishebusa while appreciating SOAR Initiative's efforts in protecting the girls and women in Kutunku said, for him, the award means that much more is expected from the recipients in ending SGBV in the community.
He said that for him, he has been saddled with a responsibility to ensure the Kutunku community attains a zero-tolerance status against SGBV.
"I will continue to make sure we have tolerance to abuse of our children, I will make sure that every family send their children to school especially girls because both boys and girls are the same, no one is better than the other."
"And anytime they have a problem, we teach them to open their mouth and say it so that the person who committed the crime would be punished, sent to the area council, the police and then to the court."
FCT community means business against SGBV
In his address, the CPC chairman of the Kutunku community, Salihu Musa, said they would not tolerate any individual who commits, conspires or tries to protect perpetrators of SGBV.
"Here in New Kutunku, we mean business. Anybody found wanting or commits SGBV of any form at all will be made to face the law."
The community members led by the traditional leader also pledged to protect all girls and women by signing a bylaw which was produced and reviewed earlier.
Also led by the chairman of the Gwagwalada area council represented Helen Alfred, the community members unveiled the Zero-Tolerance Status Signboard in the New Kutunku.
Teenagers send strong messages against SGBV in the Abuja community
Teenagers on Saturday, December 18, flooded the streets of the New Kutunku community to create awareness among residents on the fight against SGBV.
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The teenagers called on parents and adults in the community to help protect their future by ensuring they are not abused or violated.
According to the teenagers, SGBV is a violation of their fundamental human rights and must be avoided.
Abuja community releases 17 actions to take against anyone who abuses children
The New Kutunku community in the Gwagwalada area council of Abuja had taken drastic steps to protect their children and loved ones.
The community through a partnership with a non-governmental organisation, Sexual Offences Awareness and Response (SOAR) initiative developed a by-law to checkmate the activities of criminals who tend to abuse women, girls and children.
Speaking on the by-law seen by Legit.ng, the district head of New Kutunku, Gomna, said he would ensure that every perpetrator of SGBV in the community is prosecuted.