Paul Orude, Bauchi
Worried by the recent alarming cases of sexual and gender-based violence in the country, the Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC) has established Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Response Teams in Bauchi State tertiary institutions as their response to the crisis.
WARDC Founding Director Dr Abiola Akinyode-Afolabi, at a one-day training workshop for members of the Response Teams, which took place at Chartwell Hotel Bauchi, on Tuesday, lamented the rising cases of rape and other forms of gender-based violence in the country’s institutions.
The response teams, composed of lecturers and student, drew participants from the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Bauchi, Bauchi, the Bauchi State University Gadau, the Federal Polytechnic Bauchi, and School of Agriculture Bauchi.
The training workshop, supported by the African Women Development Fund based in Ghana, rigorously engaged the young women and lecturers on incidences of gender-based violence and how they could be addressed.
‘The training is to support a system that can prevent sexual and gender-based violence in higher institutions,’ Akinyode-Afolabi, said.
‘The training is to support students and lecturers to have a coordinated effort to address sexual and gender-based violence. It is also in response to what has been happening in society in the last few days.’
The WARDC Executive Director explained further that the essence of establishing the response teams was to deepen the university system to contribute to efforts being made in the institutions and provide support to students to have where to report, while also providing support to lecturers to know what to do in terms of when sexual or gender-based violence happens.
‘One of the things that we realised was that the university system does not have a strong system that responds to sexual and gender-based violence. There is an assumption that it does not occur so it is not part of their priority. But what we have seen and what is happening across the world is that sexual and gender-based violence occurred in the universities, in the tertiary institutions. So, the effort today is to build that support system that can serve temporality especially for tertiary institutions that do not have any policy on sexual harassment and gender-based violence,’ she said.
Akinyode-Afolabi observed that none of the institutions in Bauchi State has instituted such policy.
‘The whole idea is to create a pressure group that can lobby, that can create awareness, that can advocate for such policy development in these institutions so that they can save young girls who are in the school from randy lecturers so that they can also save students from sexual harassment that is happening in the schools,’ she said.
Some of the participants expressed gratitude for the idea and emphasised the need for resilience to enable victims to speak out on incidences of sexual harassments abuse on their campuses.
‘Gender-based violence should not be condoned so what we are doing today is to strengthen the voices of these young women to be able to have the courage to report abuse whenever it occurs,’ said Asabe, a female lecturer from the State University, Gadau