A Report on the Bays Planet Foundation Pioneering Project, YCIC, in Ilorin, Kwara State.
Virtue is lost, and morality is dead. We say this because back in 2020, the United Nations Women’s research revealed that 11,200 women were raped, and this includes children who were raped to death. Let’s bear in mind that this is just the number of reported cases. We live in a country where many are afraid of stigmas, so they don’t report cases of sexual abuse.
Every day, someone somewhere in Nigeria is either being sexually or socially assaulted or raped, and there is no age discrimination in these acts. Just a few days ago, a four-year-old girl, Khadija Adamu, died three days after being raped in Kano. A court in Yaba Lagos arraigned two brothers aged 10 and 15 for raping a four-year-old girl.
We agree that the government can do better in ensuring a safe country for all, but the threat of sexual perversion in our immediate environment and home is of genuine concern to us. This is why we at Bays Planet Foundation launched the You Care I Care (YCIC) project. It’s a capacity-building and stakeholder workshop involving parents/guardians, teachers, security officials, lawyers, and other stakeholders Nongovernmental Organisations (NGOs) and Community-based Organisations (CBOs) to
(1) Sensitise parents, guardians, and communities about identifying patterns of sexual abuse or violence in their children and
(2) Develop tangible ways to address these issues collectively
Our conversations at the 15th October 2022 event, which also served as the official launch of the You Care I Care project, was held in Queen Elizabeth School Hall, Ilorin, Kwara state Nigeria, and featured two facilitators. They were Mrs. Azeezah Idris O., the Director of Premium Utilities Educational Services, and Barrister Anthonia Oshiniwe, a Human Rights lawyer with years of experience in ensuring justice for victims of gender-based violence. We also had guests from schools, including Government Day Secondary School (GDSS) Kulende Ilorin, and Government Day Junior Secondary School, Oke Suna, Ilorin. Amongst the NGO stakeholders present were Kwara SDGs, Brain Builders Youth Development Initiative (BBYDI), Centre for Community Empowerment and Poverty Eradication (CCEPE), and the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA). The room also had teachers, guardians, parents, community leaders, and security officials, amongst many other stakeholders.
Our conversations featured spectacular remarks from our facilitators, who mentioned how parents, guardians, family relations, neighbours, teachers at the madrassah, and lesson teachers rape both male and female kids. They also cite that many parents and guardians get so busy with their work or religious duties that they neglect their children’s care and attention. This in itself is why many children lack knowledge of gender-based violence and sexual assault and fall victim to it. The absence of parent-children relationships makes it more challenging for kids to open up to their parents even in danger.
Barrister Anthonia also shared a time that she went to sensitise some secondary school students about Gender-Based and Sexual Violence. When it was time to ask questions, the girls wanted to talk, but they couldn’t because their teachers were there. When she suggested that the students write their opinions or questions on paper, the report of assault and violence that filled it was enormous. The lesson here is that students under age 18 are being sexually assaulted or violated, and we must find ways to address these issues by monitoring, educating, and protecting our wards.
The breakout session was the most impactful of the event. The 28 participants of the event were grouped into five to identify the causes, signs, and effects of sexual violence and present solutions to solve these issues.
In summary, the causes for social, sexual, or gender-based violence identified at the event include:
- Peer groups, as in influence by friends to perpetuate sexual crime
- Influence of sexualising societal music, jokes, videos, and internet pornography
- Hunger and poverty lead many to whoring their daughters for money
- Culture, in the form of underage marriage and preeminent patriarchy
- Broken homes, which leave the kids on the street and then lead to their assimilation into absolute immoral acts
- A mental health problem on the abuser’s side
- Revenge rape (from a victim of rape who decided to rape others too)
- Lack of adequate parental upbringing, either from parents or guardians
We also discussed the signs that show an individual has been abused, and these include:
- Withdrawal from immediate/external society
- Frequent aggression,
- Suicidal thoughts
- Low self-esteem
- Loss of appetite
- Poor performance in school, the community they live in, church, or the mosque (depending on where the crime happened)
- Behavioural disorder
- Gets easily tired
- Mortally scared of being around some people (they’re likely those who abused the victim)
- Poor physical outlook.
- But not limited depending on the child
With all these signs of gender-based abuse and violence, what are the effects on the victims? The following is what we gathered from the guests and facilitators at the event:
- Inability to make developmental decisions
- Inability to complete daily tasks
- Unwanted pregnancy in marriages
- Emotional trauma
- Anxiety, stress disorder, and depression
- Shock disability
- Loss of sexual intimacy with a spouse
- Lifetime psychological trauma (like Barrister Gloria said of a woman who was raped every day for two years when she was about 12. She wished that any victim of incest be killed by the law, not jailed)
- Overprotection of their wards
- Broken homes due to a lack of understanding or the inability of the victim to trust their parents and or guardians
Now that we’ve discovered the causes of abuse and violence, the signs reflected by abuse victims, and the effects of abuse on these victims, what about the solutions, which is what the stakeholder meeting is all about? Here are some solutions proposed to address abuse and limit (if not prevent) the crime:
- Consistent awareness and sensitisation in schools, communities, homes, and religious gatherings as young as possible. The children should be taught to understand the signs of abuse or violence, how to protect themselves, and report their experiences to parents, guardians, and other authorities.
- Training, training, and training of law enforcement officers who usually dismiss cases of sexual, Gender-Based, and Social Violence either because of their ignorance of the sensitivity or the network of the abuser.
- Comprehensive implementation of the law, as every abuser must meet jail time as pronounced in the law. This will curtail the act and hopefully serve as a warning to those sexually perverted people.
- Growth in family values, as parents must always teach their kids, protect them, and always understand when they’re in crisis.
- Advocacy for victims and eventual pursuit of justice.
- Growth in parent-children and teacher-parent synergy increases the chances that kids will have confidants who will neither hurt nor mock them.
- Gradual removal of the stigma associated with sexual violence will make it easy for victims to open up, get help, and criminalise their abusers.
- Report, report, report. We understand that this is hard to do, but it’s essential to show a criminal the way to the court.
- Stricter legislation, including jail time for rape apologists, as Barrister Anthonia suggested. She added that even rape apologists who want to express their ill-fated ideas about rape wouldn’t do it because they know it’s a crime.
- Society should empower women to avoid a case where she’s helpless to bosses asking for sexual favours for either a job or promotion at work.
- Parents and guardians should provide more time for their children to ask about their day and life and assess their mental health. Be their friends and first confidants.
- Avoid children’s exposure to sexual and violent scenes in the media
- Rehabilitation of the victim
- Implementing more laws like the Child Right Act and Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act.
We also mentioned the significance of reporting these cases in the panel and recap session. Barrister Gloria Okoduwa of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) said any case of rape or assault could be reported to them, and FIDA would take it up pro bono. They understand that the police often want to collect bribes before prosecuting someone or following up on a rape case, which is why their doors are always open.
Mrs Azeezah, who leads counselling sessions for men and women, when asked if the woman’s clothing is a justification for rape, said clothing isn’t a justification for rape. She mentioned that there are women in kirmah who has been assaulted, and even girls in the comfort of safe spaces like mosque, churches, schools, and their homes have been assaulted.
Barrister Anthonia is also a Human Rights lawyer who has spent years working to put law offenders in jail. She’s accessible and is willing to follow up on any violent case till justice is served to the victim.
You can contact us at Bays Planet Foundation to report a case or seek help through [email protected] or 09046615197.
You can also contact Barrister Gloria to report a case or seek counselling via 08033603532 and Barrister Anthonia via 08030967291.
Mrs Azeezah Idris can be reachable for counselling for both males and females via 08188537907.
We are actively working to gain justice for victims of assault or violence. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you’ve been violated in any way in the past. We are sorry you had to experience that, and we’d love it if you join in the advocacy against this violent and ruinous occurrence.
Here are pictures from the event:
Bays Planet Foundation.