New strategies to end violence against women and girls in the society were major issues discussed at a webinar organised recently by the West African Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) Nigeria in collaboration with the Urgent Action Fund Africa.
Speaking at the event which came under the theme “Rethinking strategies to end violence against women and girls’’, National Network Coordinator, WANEP Nigeria, Bridget Osakwe said the event was necessary as it would motivate the participants to be innovative in their strategies to put an end to violence against women and girls.
According to Osakwe, there was a need for the review of obsolete laws on sexual violence, adding that when such laws are reviewed and implemented it will go a long way in ending what she described as an age-long menace.
Also, she called for increased political will, saying that such would empower the government to clamp perpetrators of violence against women and girls accountable.
Coordinator, Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team, Titilola Vivour Adeniyi who spoke on, “Tackling the shadow pandemic’’ referred Sexual and Gender-Based Violence(SGBV) as a shadow pandemic in the COVID 19 epidemic.
“Our manner of engagement, our ways of doing things have probably changed forever. We are in the new normal and as such the manner in which we respond to SGBV and provide services has to adapt to our new reality. What has worked so far during the lockdown has been helpful in encouraging people to speak up and report cases,” Adeniyi stated.
She further explained that one of the most important tools for the fight to end Violence Against Women (VAW) is accurate and comprehensive data.
“Data is essential to understand VAW and for education and policymaking. Egypt, for instance, has an app for collecting/ reporting stories on street harassment, gang abuse, women being assaulted among others, and also maps where these incidents happen.
“VAW is a public health issue, as it is also a burden on healthcare worldwide. But at the same time, women who suffer from violence generally have little access to health care either because they live in remote or rural areas or they are prevented from seeking health care. Mobile healthcare technology has made healthcare access easier in some jurisdictions for such women, mobile health tech can also be used to detect domestic abuse. Health care workers, whilst using the app can be trained to identify women at risk of violence and encourage them to disclose their experiences”, she added.
National Coordinator/ Senior programme officer at the Child and Youth Protection Foundation, Kolawale Olatosimi who spoke on “ Covid-19: Protecting children from violence and abuse” observed that while many children enjoyed spending time with family during the pandemic, for others, it was a frightening time where they were at home with their abusers every day.
Violence, exploitation and abuse, he said can affect the child’s physical and mental health in the short and longer-term, impairing their ability to learn and socialize and impacting their transition to adulthood with adverse consequences later in life.