From Sola Ojo, Kaduna
As this year’s 16 days of activism against gender-based violence (Nov 25-December 10) themed “Unite Against Gender-Based Violence” winds down, interest groups and individuals have officially launched a Kaduna State Civil Society coalition against sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in the State.
The coalition is expected to work collaboratively with the state GBV Response Technical Working Group in providing services for SGBV prevention, protection and mitigation leveraging on existing policies and laws in the state.
In addition to the penal code, Kaduna has Gender Equity and Social Inclusion (GESI) policy, Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) and Child Welfare and Protection laws to address sizeable issues around SGBV if reported.
In an interview at the sideline of the official launch of the coalition held at Kaduna State University (KASU), Kaduna, The interim Chairman of the Coalition, Barrister Rebecca Sako-John said, what the launch means was that there is now a coalition of CS on GBV issues on the ground which can be contacted for services like psychosocial, referrer among others.
She said “the coalition has civil society, lawyers, health practitioners, media, traditional and religious leaders and interested individuals, expected to work in unison with state actors for us to have a good response to GBV issues in Kaduna States.
“Indeed if we must see positive change, we must work together – government and civil society organisations not at cross purposes. Remember Action Changes Things ( ACT )”, she added.
The Director, Centre for Gender Studies, KASU, Prof. Hauwa’u Evelyn Yusuf believed that the coming together of state and non-state actors would help the state to stand out in its drive to have a safe space for all.
She further noted that her citadel of learning has zero tolerance for SGBV irrespective of who is involved.
“KASU does not harbour anybody who engages in Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. We fight against rape, homosexuality and every form of discrimination”.
Earlier, a staff of the Kaduna State Ministry of Human Services and Social Development, Hajia Maryam Mu’azu, who spoke on behalf of her Commissioner, Hajiya Hafsat Baba disclosed that, as a result of efforts put in place by the administration of Governor Nasir El-Rufai, affected individuals, parents and guardians are now speaking up.
“Over 300 cases of SGBV have been reported. We used to have underreported cases but now there is an increase in reporting rate. We are breaking the culture of silence because most times the cases happened between family members who may want to settle them within.
“People are aware because of the work we are doing at the Sexual Assault Referral Centres where medical, legal, psychosocial and other services are being offered for the survival of GBV”, she said.