From Sola Ojo, Kaduna
Africa Media Development Foundation (AMDF) has secured the buy-in of critical stakeholders ahead of its campaign against Gender-based violence in the choice 12 communities of Kaduna North and Kajuru local government areas of Kaduna State.
Representatives of civil society groups, federation of women lawyers (FIDA), religious and traditional institutions, media practitioners, community prime movers, consultants and staff of the Foundation witnessed the orientation/planning meeting where a memorandum of understanding was signed ahead of proper implementation of a 12-month project aimed at combating gender-based violence at the grassroots levels.
Programme Manager, RiseUp Project, Benjamin Maigari said, the project, being implemented by AMDF, would focus specifically on gender-based violence orchestrated by crises that have increased the number of internally displaced persons, especially in Kajuru.
He said, “we decided to choose these two local governments due to their peculiarity as revealed by a survey we carried out earlier. For example, Kajuru has a high number of displaced persons which is resulting in a lot of sexual gender-based violence which is the only thing we are focusing on in this local government.
“In Kaduna North, we are going to look into harmful traditional practices like female genital mutilation and male circumcision based on their age grade.
“So, we are going to look at the health hazards that come with these practices to nip it in the bud through engagement with all the stakeholders present in this meeting today and that is why we are signing an MoU to remind us that a peaceful society is a collective responsibility.
“The communities will work as community-based action teams to challenge harmful practices and attitudes, sensitise residents on existing laws, as well as assist with referrals to relevant social services (Police, Social Welfare, Health, Commission on Human Rights, Traditional and Religious leaders), among others”, he said.
The Executive Director of AMDF, Iliya Kure, explained that the gathering was to sensitize critical stakeholder including members of the communities where the project would be executed so that all if we are on the same page.
A legal practitioner, Amina Audi Muhammad noted with nostalgia that, though violence against women and girls comes in different forms, people concentrate more on rape cases alone at the expense of other violent crimes against persons.
Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG), is a global pandemic that affects 1 in 3 women in their lifetime. In Kaduna state, it is a grave human rights violation, and also a public health problem, affecting not only the physical and mental health of women and girls but also their lives and self-esteem.
Already, there are laws to help punish the offenders and compensating the survivor of gender-based violence even though Kaduna residents are yet to take advantage of these laws due to ignorance and other primordial sentiments.
For example, there recently passed laws like Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) law, Child Welfare and Protection law, Gender Equity and Social Inclusion (GESI) policy among other means through a survivor or families of victims can press charges.
Within the 12-month implementation period, AMDF will work with Community Based Action Volunteers (COMBAV) team made up of volunteers responsible for promoting gender equity within their communities, to challenge harmful practices and attitudes, sensitise residents on existing laws, as well as assist with referrals to relevant social services providers like Police, social welfare, health, human rights commission, traditional and religious leaders among others.
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