Women’s Rights and Health Project, WRAHP, and the RENAISSANCE Foundation for Peacebuilders, REFOP, have taken the fight against Sexual and Gender Based Violence, SGBV, to schools in Lagos District 6.
The campaign, whose sole aim was to sensitise junior and senior secondary schools in Oshodi-Isolo and other schools in Lagos District 6, on the prevention of SGBV, started on September 26, 2022, and ended on November 10, 2022.
No fewer than 19, 000 junior and secondary school children were reached in 18 schools while the programme lasted.
The school project was funded by the European Union and Implemented by the British Council.
A statement by WRAHP’s Executive Director, Bose Ironsi, said her organisation in the past 12 months has built the capacity of 20 Civil Society Organisations in Oshodi-Isolo and Ojo Local Government Areas to effectively respond to incidents of SGBV in their communities.
“This, we did, on the project titled ‘Building Capacity of Civil Society Organisations to Promote Uptake of Justice Related Social Services in Ojo and Oshodi-Isolo Local Government Areas of Lagos State,” she said.
She said the project was also funded by the European Union and Implemented by the British Council.
Speaking further Bose said, “SGBV remains a challenge among young persons in Nigeria. UNICEF reports that six out of 10 children in Nigeria have experienced one form of abuse or the other.
“As part of efforts to address this challenge, we undertook these sensitisation sessions carried out to reach students in 20 junior and senior secondary schools in Oshodi-Isolo LGA and other schools in Lagos District 6.
“This initiative involves brief talks during the school assembly session on Lagos State Protection Against Domestic Violence. The students are given copies of the simplified edition of the law, an infographic on domestic violence, and a process map.”
“This program has been very impactful,” she said, noting that WRAHP worked in partnership with REFOP to implement the project.
She implored the media to team up with her group in breaking the culture of silence on cases of SGBV.
Kehinde Thompson, REFOP’s Executive Director, who addressed students of Ajao Estate Grammer School, on their assembly ground, said the whole essence of the programme was to sensitize the children on SGBV and to prevent and curtail the menace.
“The need to take this project to schools came about while we were carrying out an EU Act project in Oshodi-Isolo LGA. During our interaction with the people in the area, we discovered that many school-age children suffer from SGBV cases. We realised that most of these children are afraid to communicate with their parents
“We, therefore, saw the need to speak directly to the students to give them confidence and assure them that the government is always ready to support them. We aim to help break the culture of silence and to enable them to speak out when they suffer an SGBV case or know any of their friends who are victims.”
Mr Tompson said during the cause of the campaign, which ended on Thursday, November 10, at Ajao Estate Junior Grammar School, that an incense case has been reported, a case of police sexually harassing a student, teacher abuse of a student, father abuse of own daughter and several other SGBV cases have been reported.
Dubem Ironsi, who oversees the day-to-day running of the internal workings in WRAHP, described the project as a success story citing reports and observations recorded while the event lasted.
He commended the European Union and British Council for the project as well as REFOP for partnering with WRAHP to make it a success.
He said it was noticed that schools, where the project was observed, have no counselors, and somebody students can walk up to report SGBV cases.
Dubem, therefore, appealed to the Lagos State government to look into that, saying it was needful for all public schools to have counselors not only in Lagos but in Nigeria.
“As for SGBV cases involving teachers, guardians, and other cases reported by the students, there would be a follow-up to ensure justice is done,” he added.