…Inaugurates Male Advocates for the fight against GBV
…Launches GBV Training manual for public schools
Ndifreke Jacob, UYO.
The fight against Gender-Based Violence and sexual offenses targeting women, girls, and boys in Akwa Ibom has been given a boost as the state’s First Lady, Dr. Martha Udom, has declared a decisive battle against the scourge, which will result in a heavy blow to the perpetrators.
Speaking at the inauguration of the first-ever Male Advocates against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and the launch of the Unified Response Protocol and Referral Pathway, a training manual for public schools, Dr. Udom expressed deep concern over the widespread cases of GBV, hinting that moving forward, no perpetrator will escape consequences for their actions.
The inaugurated Male Advocates comprise Don, Thought-leaders, Life coaches, Traditional rulers, Security personnel, and Influencers who will use their individual platforms to advocate against GBV.
The First Lady of Akwa Ibom expressed disappointment that despite the government’s efforts, women and girls continue to experience rape, defilement, and abuse in various settings such as communities, schools, and homes.
She highlighted that the alarming recurrence of these cases has led to the engagement of male advocates in addressing gender-based violence.
Expressing bewilderment at why some people perceive the fight against gender-based violence as a form of witch-hunting men, Dr Udom said “We’re not happy sending men to jail, but I don’t know any man who will be happy seeing his toddler or child raped by a grown-up man who has wives and children. I don’t know any man that will be happy about that.
“So, when people start giving all kinds of comments outside, I see them as not understanding what we’re doing. You can’t say we’re sending men to prison. All we’re doing is fighting for justice and for the voiceless and vulnerable,’’ She added.
Providing insight on the inauguration of Male Advocates against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), the Akwa Ibom First Lady stated that involving men in the cause would decrease the prevalence of GBV in society, as a significant number of offenders are male.
Dr. Udom noted that the battle against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is a collective one aimed at achieving a society that is equitable and secure, where everyone can feel protected, she urged men who experience abuse in various forms to come forward confidently and speak out to protect themselves.
She further stated that the GBV Management Committee in Akwa Ibom State is committed to holding all offenders accountable for their actions.
Dr. Udom, who heads the State GBV Management Committee, expressed hope that an end to GBV issues is within reach when men play an active role and drive change in society.
She charged GBV partners and stakeholders to continue their efforts to combat this menace, emphasizing the need for sustained action.
Also speaking on the Referral Pathway, she hinted “We’re launching this training manual for schools and organizations so that when it happens you know where to direct your complaint to. It will also guide the stakeholders on what to do.”
“As we launched this handbook today, we believe people will no longer be ignorant of what we’re doing in the State and we pray that every rapist in our society repents and if they refuse to repent, life imprisonment awaits them.”
Dr. Udom, while expressing a desire for abusers to reform, highlighted the significant financial burden faced by the Sexual and Referral Centre in repairing their shattered private parts, in addition to the psychological trauma survivors endure, noting that these funds could have been utilized for economically viable endeavours.
She urged public school principals to educate their staff on the utilization of the referral pathway document and to report any cases without fear of being attacked by the families of the offenders and assured them that the state government would provide protective measures to ensure their safety.
Dr. Essien Attah, the Head of the Referral Centre in Ikot Ekpene, stressed the importance of men’s involvement in ending gender-based violence (GBV), stating that since men are more likely to be the perpetrators of such violence, it is crucial for the Male Advocates who have been appointed to speak out on this issue at every level of discussion.
He further stressed that by fostering a collaborative effort, taking decisive action, and with active involvement from men, it is possible to bring down the number of gender-based violence (GBV) incidents.
Barr Iquo Abia, the President of FIDA, Akwa Ibom State, expressed in her message of goodwill that involving men in the struggle against gender-based violence (GBV) would make the task easier and women would start to feel a sense of safety and security.
The representative of Heartland Alliance expressed gratitude for the partnership with the First Lady and commended her for her swift response, unwavering support, and dedication to combating gender-based violence (GBV) and affirmed their organization’s commitment to the fight against GBV and expressed confidence that, with collective effort, the battle against GBV will be won.
Sen. Akon Eyakenyi, the Deputy Governor-Elect, expressed gratitude to Dr. Udom for her commitment to addressing a crippling crime in society and for taking proactive measures to combat it.
Describing the First Lady as an angel sent to look for vulnerable girls and women, Sen. Eyakenyi noted that Dr. Udom ingenuity to incorporate Male Advocates is the climax of the fight against GBV and will go a long way to inclusively tackle the issue.
Highlighting the huge impact recorded at the different local government areas through the GBV centres cited, Hon. Emem Ibanga, the Local Government Chairman for Nsit Atai hinted that rate of GBV cases has reduced greatly, adding that with the men on board, the initiative will garner more success.
Responding on behalf of the inaugurated Committee members, Prof. Effiong Johnson noted that fighting violence involves everyone as it begins at home and then spreads to school and other places, reiterating that the Male Advocates armed with these facts will work to help restore sanity to Akwa Ibom State.
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