Gender-based violence perpetrated with impunity at motor parks, markets -Activist

An anti-corruption activist and founder of Follow The Money, Hamazat Lawal has raised the alarm that gender-based violence is perpetrated more in motor parks and markets, lamenting that it goes on and people appear unbothered about it.

He said a recent research conducted in Abuja, Lagos, and Enugu States revealed that a lot of people are being sexually abused at parks and marketplaces.

Lawal disclosed this on Thursday, during the PUNCH Webinar series themed, ‘Gender-based violence in Nigeria: The what, why, and the way forward’.

The PUNCH webinar series is a virtual event organised by the PUNCH Media Foundation to mark important United Nations Days.

While lamenting that SGBV is becoming a norm in the country, the activist complained that many Nigerians are ignorant of the definition of sexual assault.

The activist expressed concern about the decline in moral principles, which he said was a contributing factor to the rising number of gender-based violence cases recorded nationwide.

According to him, before now, this was not a prevalent issue in our country or society because I grew up in a society where everyone provided protection not only for their children or their ward but also for people within their community. But over the years, we have lost that value.

He said, “So when you see reports now, you will see that people who molest children or vulnerable people are those who reside within that same community.

“I think that we must accept the simple truth that SGBV has become a norm. For us to understand where exactly those SGBVs are prominent, interestingly, the two key places that raise the red flag are motor parks and marketplaces.

“Most women have been harassed in these public places. To people who have witnessed some of this harassment, they did not see it as harassment.

“I think that over the years with awareness, some issues that a lot of people say are not SGBV, they are now getting to understand that they are.”

Lawal noted that there is a need for teenagers’ and young girls’ engagement to strengthen conversations around SGBV.

“I think as advocates and activists, we can’t take away the role of the government and in this case, we can’t take the role of law enforcement agent because for an investigation to happen, you must be able to get out of it and have the police you know who represents the state to file a case report on.

“I think first we need to have more SGBV centres across the country. We need to be able to document this evidence in good time.

“I see a lot of people who perpetrated this act, say, oh why are you coming forward now? What happened two years ago, why now? So, I think we need to look at our morals around this and also encourage people to speak out,” Lawal added.

Meanwhile, a search by PUNCH Healthwise on the national gender-based violence dashboard website, showed that 12,995 SGBV cases had been reported across the country in 2023.


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