On a daily basis, women and girls around the world, face varying degrees of abuse. Gender-based violence (GBV) and Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) takes many different forms, including domestic violence, sexual assault, and harassment, early and forced marriage, sex trafficking, so-called ‘honor’ crimes, and female genital mutilation.

According to the United Nations, VAWG is a widespread and systematic violation of fundamental human rights violations and an enduring form of gender-based discrimination. A World Bank Report on Gender-Based Violence (Violence Against Women and Girls) shows the following statistics.

These abuses occur in every country of the world, stable and in conflict, amongst the rich and poor, regardless of age or socioeconomic status.
In Nigeria, many cases of violence against women and girls arise as a result of social and cultural, as well as religious and traditional beliefs. Women also become easy prey for abusers when they are financially vulnerable and do not have a proper support system. In this case, the abuser is often someone in a relationship with the woman, maybe her husband, who could refuse her having any form of financial independence, regardless of her qualification.

As part of efforts to stop violence against women and girls in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, Nigeria, the Social Development Secretariat (SDS) FCT, held a one-day training on how to ‘do no harm’, how to better integrate, develop plans and programs on VAWG, Sexual and Gender Based Violence, (SGBV) Harmful Practices, (HP) and the interlinkages with women’s access to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. (SRHR) where social workers were enlightened on how to manage situations of violence against women and girls.

The Director, Gender Department of the SDS, Mrs Asabe Umar, said violence against women and girls in the FCT, is increasing on a daily basis. She told the participants at the workshop that they need to put in their best effort in order to help eliminate the scourge of violence against women and girls, especially in the FCT.

Mrs Asabe Umar. Director, Gender Department of Social Development Secretariat, FCT

The Desk Officer, FCT Sexual, and Gender-Based Violence Response Team, Mrs. Jacinta Ike, said in many cases, victims do not even realize that they have been abused. According to her, it is important that victims know their rights so they can report to the right authorities. She said many people are raped, especially in marriage, and encouraged these people to step forward and report to the authorities, as it is a crime under the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act (VAPP) of 2015.

The Desk Officer, FCT Sexual, and Gender-Based Violence Response Team, Mrs. Jacinta Ike leading a session

The facilitator at the event, Mr. Kolawale Olatosimi endeared the social workers at the training to pay close attention to victims. It is the duty of social workers to speak to victims in ways that are acceptable, putting their feelings into consideration in order to avoid inflicting secondary or Tertiary forms of victimization on the victims in the process of reporting and follow up on a case.

The Facilitator, Mr Kolawale Olatosimi

He said secondary victimization refers to behaviors of social service providers who blame the victim or are insensitive, causing further trauma to the victims of violence. For example, a rape victim who goes to the authorities to report the case, and is met by a social worker who tells the victim it was all her fault.

Mr. Olatosimi further said VAWG needs to be tackled holistically. Most of the issues facing VAWG are interrelated and so all issues must be handled and tackled together. He added that there must be good partnership at all levels- community, area councils, FCT and at the National levels.

Gender-based violence or violence against women and girls is a global pandemic that affects 1 in 3 women in their lifetime. And on a daily basis, the cases are rising.

Story: Ene Ken-Yawe


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