A report on the safety of girls and women has shown that 95 per cent of Gender-Based Violence cases in the Federal Capital Territory, Niger and Nasarawa state communities were perpetrated by men and boys.
This finding was made known by the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer of Talitha Cumi Foundation, Ms. Comfort Bello, during the Flash Light Actions on Girls Safety project midline dissemination meeting held in Abuja.
Bello said that the three-year FLAGS project is being funded by the UN Trust Fund and implemented by TCF to end GBV and is meant to support 750 marginalised schoolgirls between 10 to 19 years.
She explained that poverty, culture, lack of skills and parental care as well as neglect, are some of the causes of GBV.
“On the midline assessment conducted in our FLAGS communities, the major cause of GBV as identified by the respondents is poverty.
“About 71 per cent of GBV cases are due to poverty and 75 per cent of major perpetrators are men, 20 per cent are boys. Therefore, basically, 95 per cent are men and boys who are the major perpetrators of GBV in the country,” she said.
Bello explained that the survey also showed that most of the perpetrators of GBV were family members such as brothers, fathers and uncles.
According to her, “We believe that if they are continually sensitised in the community, they will be able to protect the girls and GBV will reduce to a minimal level.
“We also encourage skill acquisition training for girls to keep them busy and empowered. The respondents requested for the presence of more police stations in their communities.”
Bello also stressed the need for the establishment of police stations and a swift judicial process to ensure the arrest, investigation and prosecution of perpetrators to serve as deterrence to others.
TCF Executive Director, Ms. Tayo Erinle, stressed the need for the establishment of more shelters for the safety of GBV survivors.
She also said it is important to empower women and girls with skills to enable them to have psycho-social support.
Erinle decried inadequate shelter to accommodate GBV survivors, especially girls above 18 years and
urged stakeholders to provide more for the safety of girls and women.
“We need shelter, places where we can keep the survivors safe and rehabilitate them, while justice takes its cause. Government can support in this regard.
“If we are unable to take survivors out of where they are being abused, it will continue because of their level of vulnerability.
“So, shelters are very important and as it is now, shelter is inadequate; we don’t have enough, especially for people above 18 years.
“People who have access to the fund and facilities should provide shelter. That is a great way to support the war against GBV.”
Erinle revealed that the slow judicial process has been stalling justice for GBV cases, had increased the act and further affected the mental health of survivors.
“The will of justice is very slow and can be very frustrating for the survivors and us. This is because sometimes when you pass through the stages of gathering required evidence, getting the support from the health and community level, FIDA, Police and for it to end up in the court takes forever.”
According to her, the issue has to be looked into so as not to make it appear as if nothing is being done.
She said that when people suffer GBV, the harm could be soothed or some comfort could come when they see justice, but not while the cases are ongoing.
Mrs. Gloria Ekanem of the Women Development Department, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, said every opportunity to talk about girls’ safety was an opportunity to discuss the future of young Nigerian women.
Ekanem expressed regret that the issue of rape was still rampant, and urged girls to “know how to protect yourselves and be armed with the right education from the right people so that you will not be misled.”
In the same vein, Mrs. Funmi Kolawole, Gender Desk Officer, Nigeria Police said, “Most of the cases reported are from villages and communities, and most of the perpetrators are relations that are supposed to take care of the survivors.
“The number of people reporting GBV cases is more than what it used to be and the culture of silence has been broken and we have a lot of reports now,” Kolawole added.