From Ajiri Daniels, Abuja
Bothered by the rising cases of sexual harassment, rape and other forms of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in the society, an advocacy group, Tabitha Empowerment Centre has launched its flagship campaign across local communities in Abuja.
The campaign which focuses on raising awareness on issues of Gender-Based Violence also seeks to disseminate preventive messages to curb the menace through the creation of support centres in local communities to facilitate reporting and access to justice.
Speaking during its recently held community-based sensitisation campaign at Kurudu District of Abuja, Founder and Executive Director of the group, Mrs. Christina Uzo-Okamgba noted that the campaign was born out of the need to sensitise citizens and community leaders on the menace of Gender-Based Violence, adding that it was also a strategic move to enable individuals have access to local authorities where they can report cases of Gender-Based Violence.
“Tabitha Empowerment Centre was unveiled in 2017 and the essence is to help individuals and communities. We know that GBV is a menace in the society and we are making efforts to curb it. That is why we have launched the Anti Gender-Based Violence campaign and we’re moving from one community to another.
“We started in Kurudu, we will go to Kpeyegyi, Orozo, Karshi and others; and the essence is to enable people have access to their Chiefs so that if they have GBV cases, they would report to them; then with time, our volunteers will be coming to check at the palace to know if there were any cases recorded and then we can take it up from there and channel it to the appropriate quarters,” she said.
Also speaking, the group’s Advocacy Officer and Lawyer, Barr. Gladys Emmanuel emphasised that the campaign was motivated by the need to provide basic knowledge on issues of GBV and to bring support services closer to the communities through the setting up of support centres in each community.
She said, “This campaign aims at providing knowledge on issues of GBV and also to demystify some of the myths surrounding the menace. Sometimes when we say GBV people think it’s a women affair, and that it has nothing to do with the men; but that is not true, because we have the likes of Men Engage Nigeria (an advocacy group by men) who are striving everyday to ensure that Sustainable Development Goal 5 (SDG5) which is Gender Equality, is attained. So if we have those kind of people come around and partner with us to ensure that this campaign is successful, I think that would be a change in the narrative.
“In March, we will be moving to Kpeyegyi, Jikwoyi communities and subsequently we will be visiting schools – schools at Airport Road, Asokoro and various parts of the FCT. The number one objective is sending the word out. Gone are the days when issues of GBV were restricted to just women and children alone; right now, even men are affected, so it’s best we start to indoctrinate people from a very tender age. That is why we are going to schools and we’re setting up what is known as the Anti Gender-Based Violence school clubs so these children can get involved in the process.
“Also, we will be training about 40-50 persons drawn from various communities in Abuja – from Kuje, Karshi, Kpeyegyi, Karu, Nyanya etc. We will be training them on how to become frontline officers when it comes to handling cases of GBV. So the Anti-GBV campaign is really broad,” she explained.
In a goodwill message, Mrs. Roseline Abare, a representative from the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), commended Tabitha Empowerment Centre for their efforts in combating GBV. She restated NAPTIP’s commitment to partnering and aligning with initiatives geared towards fighting violence against persons.
She said, “I really applaud Tabitha Empowerment Centre for the aggressive nature with which they are pursuing this crime – the fight against GBV, because it’s all-encompassing; violence against persons affects the physical, emotional, and psychological behaviour of individuals and this NGO is combating it, and I applaud them. I also wish them success in the work they are doing, and as a representative of NAPTIP, we are happy to work with them.”
Reacting to the visit and campaign in his community, the District Head of Kurudu, His Royal Highness Ezra Gomna Hakimi expressed gratitude and hope that the campaign would curb GBV and foster peace in his community.
“We are happy to see this campaign happen in our community. People seem to have forgotten the culture and that is why violence against persons is on the rise. I believe everyone has a culture that forbids violence and if we stick to our cultures, we won’t have violence.
“My message to Tabitha Empowerment Centre is for them not to relent in the work they are doing. They are not getting paid but they are doing it out of goodwill. I commend them and wish them well,” the monarch said.