About 15% of the Nigerian population, or at least 25 million people in Nigeria, have various forms of disabilities. Many of them are regularly subjected to various forms of abuse due to certain vulnerabilities, including gender and sexual-based violence.
There have been many reports of mentally ill women and girls being impregnated by unknown men in many communities in Nigeria. In most cases, the women and girls give birth under unhygienic and harsh conditions with little or no care from the system and the society.
Despite how prevalent sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls with disabilities (WAGWDs) in Nigeria are, they are often overlooked by the authorities and institutions saddled with the responsibility of handling cases of SGVB.
In most cases, it is either the environment of the referral centers, courts, and police stations that are not accessible to WAGWDs, or the processes and procedures are not disability-friendly. The dismissive attitude of law enforcement agencies and society towards WAGWDs constitutes a barrier to them reporting violations.
Consequently, when WAGWDs are molested they are less likely to speak up or report it sometimes due to a lack of knowledge on what constitutes abuse or who to report to.
In an effort to fill these gaps, a one-day Training of Trainers (ToT) of Teachers in the School for the Disabled, Judges, Prosecutors, and Social Workers to build their capacity and equip them with the tools and knowledge on how to respond to cases of gender and sexual-based violence especially as it affects WAGWDs, was organized by the FCT Social Development Secretariat in collaboration with the with support from the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative Program.
The UN Women Programmes officer under the Spotlight Initiative, Tosin Akinbu In her welcome address delivered via phone, said teachers and caregivers of persons with disabilities must provide support, care, and respond to their needs to ensure that sexual and gender-based violence does not occur under their watch. In situations when it occurs she urged them to report such cases promptly.
She said she it was her hope that at the end of the training participants would have acquired the knowledge and tools necessary for the appropriate handling and reporting of cases of gender-based violence against people with disabilities.
The Facilitator Emmanuel Ojukwu (CP/RTD) urged participants as professionals to make the wellbeing of victims and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence their priority to shield victims and survivors from further harm.
He also emphasized the need for referral centers, police stations, and courts to make provisions to accommodate the particular needs of victims and survivors of gender-based violence with disabilities to enable them to have easy access to services.
Story: Ihuoma Ukeje
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