Sexual Violence And Trends In Lagos State Higher Institutions

 

By

 

Damilola Adeoye

 

The increasing trend of sexual assault of female students in higher institutions of learning in Lagos State as replete in media reportages is disheartening. More worrisome is the apathetic attitude school authorities display on such problem considering the botched way cases of sexual violence are handled. In a lot of incidents, no stringent actions are taken against perpetrators of rape of female students who are usually the male members of the academic staff and students. Reason for this is not farfetched, Nigeria as a society is enmeshed in a patriarchal system. In simple term, a man can denigrate a woman without a collective challenge by his fellow men.

According to a recent baseline media monitoring conducted under the project title: Mainstreaming Gender Reporting on Affirmative Action of Women and Girls Rights Issues by Journalists for Christ (JFC) Nigeria, it was observed that there is a preference for men to be quoted as sources over women in issues that concern women. This only poses a critical thought that if the presence of women as sources in media reports is low especially in issues that relate to them, does this not indicate an infringement on their basic right to defend themselves? This observation distinctly reveals the triviality accorded women in Nigeria media.

Due to reprisal attacks ranging from threat of failing a female victim by lecturers to physical violence; even death by other culprits, most cases go unreported. The shame of being stigmatized and lack of information to access justice are also factors. Though an academic terrain, where victims and culprits are supposed to know the consequences and laws guiding sexual violence, the traditional practices of keeping mum in a male-dominated environment still seeps its way through the walls of these higher institutions of learning. Most students in tertiary institutions in Lagos State are not even aware of the legal repercussions of committing sexual violence crimes, they do not know that these crimes can lead to life imprisonment, hence, offenders can always go free and brag about their actions consequently stoking negatively the fire of this sinister act. The schools are also culpable in these crimes because most of them do not have detailed rules to resolve sexual violence crimes and their attendant issues.

Female students on school campuses had been accused of indecent dressing making them susceptible to sexual assault, thus, the resultant rape cases. However, no excuse in any form should be accepted as a reason to sexually violate a woman. Sexual violence is a violation of women’s rights; it portends health problems such as those causing victims to contract the deadly HIV. Reports have revealed that increase in HIV developed from sexual violence cases, and the emotional pain caused by this health issue is also a form of violence.

Conversely, female students who are considered vulnerable to sexual crimes are not the only victims; male lecturers have accused the women of sexually seducing them in order to gain good grades. When they do not comply, the female students usually resort to blackmail. Some male lectures have even complained of threats of rape by female students who seek academic favours and this situation makes them feel insecure on school campuses. Similarly, female lecturers have also been accused of sexually harassing young male students.

In order to curb cases of sexual violence on campuses of tertiary institutions in Lagos State, The Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) recently began various sensitization and enlightenment campaign across the city.  This is in addition to  the massive actions been taken by other women and gender based organizations to address Gender based violence in Lagos state .

The need to especially focus on curbing sexual violence  and indeed Gender based violence in higher institutions of learning in Nigeria  cannot be overemphasized.  It is therefore imperative for civil society organizations and all stakeholders  to extend their advocacy to tertiary institutions to  enable a peaceful environment for students to be  educated in order to fulfill their potentials in  life.

 

Damilola Adeoye holds a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Botany from Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye,Ogun State.  She  works with Centre for 21st Century Issues and coordinates the organizations projects on women’s rights and environment including Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 

 

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Keep Girls Safe in School in the 21st Century

Vivian  Ifeoma Emesowum 

 

A safe environment is instrumental for breaking patterns of violent behaviour in the society. It allows skill building that enable girls to communicate, negotiate and develop high self esteem to personal development. A safe school is a fundamental agent for achieving growth and leadership. It establishes behaviour patterns that reduce gender based violence in wider society. To invest in achieving a safe and gender responsive schools gives a girl the opportunity to reach her full potential and thrive.

Among the barriers that stop girls from fulfilling their full potential is school-related gender based violence (SRGBV).  GBV is a social and human rights problem that is rooted in social inequalities among men and women. It is a problem that occurs in all parts of the globe, and while GBV has gained more attention over the years, it remains inadequate. Gender-based violence covers child sexual abuse, sex trafficking, sexual assault, domestic violence, early child marriage, violence in schools, female genital mutilation/cutting, forced labor and more.  It limits girls’ enrolment, undermines their participation and achievements, and increases absenteeism and dropout rates. Kidnapping of girls is becoming another angle of violence in recent times. The kidnapping of about 276 girls from government secondary school in the town of Chibok in Borno state by the Boko Haram sect in April 14, 2014 will continue to be a story to tell in the history of Nigeria

Education is a human right and a powerful tool of empowerment, and schools are important spaces in which to build respectful relationships between boys and girls. Education can equip girls with the skills and knowledge to develop livelihoods and learn about their rights, and to break cycles of poverty.  However, girls all over the world face violence and intimidation in, around, and on their way to and from school.

Girls experience violence even in the hands of fellow students, teachers, school administrators and others. They may face sexual harassment, bullying, cyber violence or may be asked for sexual favours in exchange for good grades or school fees. In some communities, the route to school may be unsafe

Many girls, particularly the most marginalized, continue to be deprived of the right to education; they are more likely to have caring responsibilities within their families and when resources are short. The failure to ensure girls are able to access their right to education has profound effects on individuals as well as wider society. For girls, lack of education has lifelong consequences, such as increasing the likelihood they will enter into situations of economic dependence in which their vulnerability to violence may be increased. For society at large, the transformative potential of girls’ education is immense for the achievement of almost all development goals.

“Improve the safety of girls at and on the way to and from school, including by establishing a safe and violence free environment by improving infrastructure such as transportation, providing separate and adequate sanitation facilities, improved lighting, playgrounds and safe environments; adopting national policies to prohibit, prevent and address violence against children, especially girls, including sexual harassment and bullying and other forms of violence, through measures such as conducting violence prevention activities in schools and communities, and establishing and enforcing penalties for violence against girls”,

“Develop policies and programmes, giving priority to formal and informal education programmes that support girls and enable them to acquire knowledge, develop self-esteem and take responsibility for their own lives, including access to a sustainable livelihood; and place special focus on programmes to educate women and men, especially parents and caregivers, on the importance of girls’ physical and mental health and well-being, including the elimination of child, early and forced marriage, violence against women and girls, female genital mutilation, child sexual exploitation, including commercial sexual exploitation, sexual abuse, rape, incest and abduction, and the elimination of discrimination against girls such as in food allocation”;

The impact of violence in schools extends far beyond the act itself. School-related violence can lead to poor attendance, lower academic results, and higher drop-out rates – not to mention the emotional and mental toll it often causes. Girls who experience violence also have higher fertility rates and lower health status. In the face of danger, everyday school life becomes fraught with fear and anxiety – rather than being the key to a fulfilling future.

 

Vivian Ifeoma Emesowum  is the Executive Director of Grassroot People and Gender Development Center (GRADE) and secretary of Lagos State Gender Advocacy Team (LASGAT.)  She is a gender advocate, health educator, researcher, citizen journalist, a writer and grassroots development practitioner with over 15 years experience promoting sustainable development at the grassroots through innovative strategies in Nigeria.

 

CELEBRATING THE INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY: WHY MEN SHOULD STOP THE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS IN NIGERIA

Today, as we celebrate the International Women’s day all over the world, the message i am sending to the world is that women should be appreciated not abused. Gender equality and women’s empowerment is a human right which must be respected by all.
As a young man, reflecting on womanhood on this international women’s day , I realized that from the early stage of creation women have been there for us men. They gave us life by giving birth to us, they nurture us, educate us and support us to reach our potentials.
Why then should we reward them with violence, why should we continue to sexually harass them, rape and unleash terror on them? Women don’t deserve violence rather they deserve love and affection. I imagined how the world will look like without the women? Lonely, boring and uninteresting.
The ideas of cooking, washing, helping, caring and love was made profound by women. Meaning that, men rely on women in at least 70% of their daily activities. We can do without pets, assets, money and properties, but women the most significant creation on earth, we cannot do without.
Today as we celebrate the International Women’s Day worldwide, Men in Nigeria should stop the violence and abuse (emotional, sexual and psychological) against women and girls. Men must STOP destroying the future of our female leaders through sexual harassments. The future of generations of women and girls has been destroyed by men in various societies through rape and other forms of violence.
Imagine a 50 years old married man violating a girl of 5years years! There is need to raise awareness about the menace of violence against women and girls particularly among men and boys. Men and boys must learn to appreciate and respect women and girls and support them to live a safe and violence free life.
I never cease to wander and fathom why men and boys should destroy the women who cared for them, who loved them and are always there for them. When we are depressed women are there to console us. When we are sad they make us happy and above all satisfy our sexual emotion. After all, all men and boys have mothers, sisters and nieces. Men are only strong and successful through the support of women around them.
On this international women’s day i extol the virtues of women. They are bold, brave and hard-working. They play various vital roles on earth till their last breath in taking care of family or household and spending their valuable time teaching and taking care of the children and the environment.
Women are our mothers they need to be cared for and cherished. I celebrate women and girls today; I commit to support gender equality and women’s empowerment by ensuring that I do not violate any girl or woman no matter the situation and circumstances. I will raise awareness among men and boys to change violent behaviours towards women and girls and thus putting an end to violence against women and girls in Nigeria.
I call on men and boys to support and work with me to make Nigeria a haven for women. Happy international women’s day to my mothers, sisters, aunties and nieces. God bless women and girls!
AdeKunle Akinde
Program assistant media and youth development
Centre for 21st Century Issues, Nigeria
08020739787
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