GBVH: Solidarity Centre takes campaign to Lagos communities, wants perpetrators punished
The Solidarity Centre in Nigeria has called for support of community leaders to end Gender-Based Violence and Harassment (GBVH) in Nigeria especially at workplaces.
The Solidarity Centre, an international civil society organisation, made the call on Thursday at a Community Sensitisation and Awareness Campaign tagged “End Discrimination and Gender Based Violence and Harassment in the Workplace”.
The project titled: “Elevating Women’s Participation in the Workplace in West Africa”, had community leaders, union leaders and women groups in attendance.
Sensitising residents of Epetedo community on Lagos Island, Mrs Vanessa Edhebru, Gender Specialist, Solidarity Centre, said that the centre was creating awareness on GBVH and making people understand what the root causes were, as well as the effects and repercussions.
“The first step to changing something that is not right within a community is to first of all ensure that people understand the depth of what this particular scourge is.
“As we are here in this community, Isale Eko, some of them do not even realise what constitutes GBVH because it has become a way of life in the community,” Edhebru said.
She said that the centre was also constituting small groups of advocates within communities who could begin to organise and mobilise themselves to set a standard against GBVH.
Edhebru said that the Solidarity Centre worked with different unions, explaining that the centre chose the community because it had presence in the area through Federation of Informal Workers Organisation of Nigeria ( FIWON).
“There has also been a need for us to elaborate on the effects of domestic violence to the workers. The community is beginning to see that there is a need for them to organise, so it is a collective effort,” she added.
Edhebru, who noted that unions and the communities must frown against GBVH, said that people must report every perpetrator of GBVH to the police for prosecution.
According to her, the awareness campaign and sensitisation will move to other communities.
Edhebru said that since the International Labour Congress Convention (ILO C19O) had been ratified by Nigeria, the centre was working to ensure how the Federal Government would domesticate and implement the international convention.
“When that is done, violence against person at the workplace and community will be addressed with a pillar such as a law, so that people can see that it is not only a criminal offence but also something that is punishable by law.
“So, there is a need for community mobilisation and awareness both for the workers and employers for us to have a society that is safe and conducive to work and be productive.
“We want people to be aware of the ills and the repercussions,” she added
Urging the victims of GBVH to speak out, Edhebru said that keeping quiet would empower the perpetrators.
She said: “If the perpetrators get away with such an evil act, what happens is that he is empowered when nothing is done or nothing is said.
“So, there is power in speaking up and supporting those who have spoken up. There is power in bringing the perpetrators to book.
“There is need for us to work together as a community and society to see that this GBV, every other harassment and intimidation discontinue so that our society can become what to emulate.”
Also speaking, Mrs Iyabo Arowofela-Olanrewaju, a member of FIWON, said that women discrimination and sexual harassment had become rampant in the area.
Commenting, Chief Abdulateef Kolawole-Ope, the Magaji-Ope, a community leader in Epetedo, Lagos Island, said that the government should come up with policies and laws to stop harassment of women in the society.
In her remarks, Alhaja Saidat Oshodi, the President of Nigeria Union of Tailors, Lagos State Chapter, said that if victims failed to speak out, there would not be solutions to the menace.
Oshodi frowned at forceful advancement, physical harassment, sexual abuse, physical abuse and other forms of GBVH in the community.