Contrary to the belief of many, Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is not only sexual but also domestic, psychological, economic, emotional, verbal abuse and child’s rights violation, among others.
This was disclosed by the panel at a two-day workshop organised by the Oyo State chapter of the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), in collaboration with the Oyo State Government, to sensitise journalists and other interest groups on gender-based reporting.
The workshop, held in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, was tagged: ‘Gender-Based Reporting’.
It was put together to give participants the opportunity to exchange ideas and chart the course for wider media reportage of GBV and better sensitisation on the legal provisions to curb the menace and protect victims.
The workshop had in attendance representatives of interest groups such as the Nigeria Police Force, the Nigeria Immigration Service, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), the Oyo State Primary Healthcare Board, the Oyo State Ministry of Women Affairs, the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), the Nigeria Union of Journalists ((NUJ), the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) and NGOs like the Child Protection Network (CPN), the APIN Health Initiative, and the Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC).
The Chairperson of the Oyo State Chapter of NAWOJ, Comrade Jadesola Ajibola, disclosed that the workshop was organised to stem the tide of inappropriate reportage of gender-based violence.
She said, “Over time, I realised that some of these issues are wrongly reported and so we needed to put it right….and so we brought stakeholders together to say we must end gender-based violence in Oyo State.”
The Chief Superintendent of Immigration (CSI), M. A. Omotoyinbo revealed that the Nigeria Immigration Service has put a lot of things in place to protect women and children and also not to make women feel inferior to men.
“In the past, if a woman is to obtain passport she must get a letter of consent from the husband but that has been abolished now. This is done for the woman to feel she’s being cared for, she’s being respected,” she said.
She further noted that both the father and the mother are now required to give consent when an underage child wants to obtain a passport, unlike what it used to be, when only the father’s consent was required.
Also supporting the need to protect women and children, the JDPC, among other things, works at ensuring that children are off the streets, placed in schools and have their right to education upheld such that they would no longer be exposed to different kinds of labour.
Ms. Adebayo of the JDPC stated that, “We are not telling them to leave the streets for their homes, we have placed 500 of them in schools within Ibadan…the only thing we need from their parents is to give them food and let them come to school.”
She disclosed that the commission has moved from giving attention to the girl-child alone as the boy-child is also included now.
She said this is because, “If you focus all your attention on the girl-child and you leave out the boy, whatever training you have given the girl-child will be taken away by the boy via exploitation and abuse. So we are equipping the boy-child such that he will see himself as a responsible boy that will equally protect the rights of the girl-child.”
The Gender Desk Officer at the Oyo State Primary Healthcare Board, Mrs. Oluwakemi Olawole said, “The Oyo State Government, through the Ministry of Women Affairs, advocated for free treatment of gender-based violence victims across the state and the Ministry of Health has assented to that request.”
Olawole further stated that, “As part of government efforts, a protocol was also developed by the Federal Ministry of Health on the management of GBV and the first State to train health workers on the usage is Oyo.”
One of the issues that came out at the workshop is the low rate at which GBV victims come out to report the act.
The reasons for this are multifarious, as attested by Pastor Marcus Williams, a social worker.
He said, “People don’t want to report because of cultural issues, then their social status will not want them to disclose to anybody.”
He added that the victims of GBV do not report because they believe they might not find a husband to marry them or they might not get enough support to overcome the stress surrounding their disclosure.
The reluctance of GBV victims to report was also attributed to stigmatisation, as revealed by a gender advocate and development legal practitioner, Aderonke Ige, Esquire.
She noted that, “We have to change the narrative and get to a point where we begin to shame the perpetrators rather than stigmatise the victims so that the abusers will begin to bear the shame”.
She added that victims get discouraged when they do not get to hear the end of justice in reported cases and when the society does not accommodate them.
The Chairman of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Akin Sodipe also revealed that victims do not report because their confidentiality is not protected.
He stressed that, “They need the confidentiality. Until the person wants to talk or wants to be known, he doesn’t have to be known; but that doesn’t make the culprit go scot-free, he must be brought to book.”
Dr. Sodipe added that victims should go to the hospital first, for treatment.
“The first port of call for the victim of any violence ideally should be the hospital. Then the hospital should inform the police. It’s a matter of duty, not whether he wants it or not. It’s a social corporate responsibility.”
Some of the journalists who attended the workshop applauded the initiative by NAWOJ, saying they benefited greatly from it.
Afolasade Osigwe works with Premier FM 93.5, Radio Nigeria, Ibadan. She revealed that she learned a number of new things about GBV from the workshop.
She said, “I learnt more about the ethics and the rules of reporting GBV…It also exposed me to the fact that I can do some other things to assist victims of GBV in addition to reporting their cases in the media.”
On the part of Yinka Adeniran, who writes for the Nation Newspaper, he was able to present the challenges he has faced in reporting GBV at the workshop.
He noted that, “The best part of it is agreeing on a framework. It’s just like reaching a consensus on how to do the job in a way that nobody would disturb the other, yet protecting the interest of the victim.”
At the end of the two-day workshop, participants arrived at a policy framework, as written in a 13-point communiqué, to act as a guide for handling GBV cases in Oyo State.
The points in the communiqué include:
- There should be no discrimination against victims or survivors of GBV through the use of inappropriate words and languages in media reports.
- Issues of GBV must be duly investigated before reporting and the prosecution process of perpetrators followed up. Stakeholders must allow judicial processes to take its course.
- The media should sensitise Oyo State residents on GBV, legal provisions for the protection of victims and penalties for perpetrators of GBV.
- The Oyo State Government must fund the family court so that judicial activities could commence immediately, to reduce GBV cases in the state.
- The implementation of the Child’s Right Law and Violence Against Women Law, as passed in the state, should begin immediately.