By Hilary Akalugwu
Nsukka (Enugu State) Oct. 8, 2020 Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), under the aegis of Men-Engage Nigeria Network, have charged traditional rulers and religious bodies to support the fight to end gender-based violence in the communities.
The National Director of Men-Engage, Mrs Evelyn Joseph, gave the charge on Thursday in Nsukka during a one-day workshop, organised by the group and sponsored by Sonike Gender Justice.
Joseph said that the workshop was designed “to engage traditional rulers and church leaders in Nsukka on how to end gender-based violence”.
She said that for the fight against gender-based violence to be won, traditional rulers and church leaders had a greater role to play.
“There is need for community and church leaders to let their subjects and congregations know the dangers of gender-based violence.
“This will make them to rally round victims, expose perpetrators as well as hand them over to the law enforcement agencies,” she said
Dr Chimezie Attama, the Founder of Equity Watch Initiative, one of the NGOs in the Men-Engage Network, described gender-based violence as “man’s inhumanity to man and a violation of the rights of victims”.
Attama, a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Psychology and Anthropology in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), said gender-based violence was any violent attacks on a man or woman.
“At times, when talk about gender-based violence, some people think it is attack on women only.
“Men are also attacked only that women and children are more vulnerable.
“Gender-based violence are actions that violate the fundamental right of people, like rape, early or forced marriage, female genital mutilation, harmful widowhood practices, among others,” she said.
Attama said the workshop was designed for the group to dialogue with traditional rulers and church leaders on how to eradicate gender-based violence in their communities.
“Available statistics have shown that there is a rise in gender-based violence, especially rape, during the COVID-19 lock-down.
“I am hopeful that this workshop will help to find solutions on how to eradicate or reduce gender-based violence to the barest minimum,” she said.
Also, Prof. Aloysius Okolie, the Dean, Faculty of Social Science, UNN, commended the organisers of the workshop, saying that “gender-based violence is a critical issue that everybody must join hands to end”.
Okolie said the faculty would in due time organise a workshop on the issue for people from different walks of life to profer solutions to gender-based violence.
“We should all condemn gender-based violence, whether it is against a woman or man and ensure perpetrators are brought to book,” he said.
Igwe Patrick Okoro, the Traditional Ruler of Nkpunano Community in Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State, said traditional rulers lacked the constitutional power to handle certain critical issues in their communities.
“Yes, traditional rulers are doing their best to tackle gender-based violence in the communities.
“But if the country’s constitution has given power to traditional rulers, some of the issues that pose challenges in communities, like gender-based violence, could have been a thing of the past.
“Traditional rulers are doing their best to maintain peace and unity in their domain but there is a limit they can go because they have no constitutional power backing them,” Okoro said.
Rev. Fr. Innocent Eneweh from Divine Mercy Parish, Ihe-Owerre Nsukka, said the only way to end the phenomenon and other ills bedeviling society was to embark on re-orientation of people’s mindset.
“There is urgent need to embark on society re-orientation, starting from the family, in oder to correct many abnormal happenings in our society today.
“We must catch them young by teaching them good values. That is why the Bible says, “Teach a child the way he should go and when he grows he will not depart from it’, Eneweh said.