As the society witnesses more horrendous gender-based violence, a communications practitioner, Mrs Onyinye Ude, has advised victims of such abuses in Enugu State to speak up against it.
Ude, the Managing Director, ADAOJIRIVER Optimal Communications, gave the advice while addressing participants at a Town Hall Meeting, tagged “Ogbako Umuada’’ at Oji-River on Wednesday on the theme: “Addressing SGBV in Rural Enugu Communities’’, organised by her organization.
She lamented that victims of gender-based and domestic violence were most times not willing to report their ordeals to the appropriate authorities, as many of them had accepted violence as a norm.
The staff of National Orientation Agency (NOA), said she regretted that religion and culture had further discouraged victims from taking actions, noting that such attitude emboldened the abusers to continue the act.
“I have discovered that women and children are short-changed in decision making, especially in our traditional institutions dominated by the male gender.
“If you listen to the radio and go to social media, you will see the kind of abuses that people are going through, gender abuse and sexual abuse because you cannot do anything.
“A lot of people are even scared; who do I tell because when you say you are abused, number one is that you are the cause.
“So, the essence of this “Ogbako Umuada’’ is to first of all sensitise our women that there are abuses everywhere; in family, in community and in politics,’’ she said.
Ude added: “When you are abused, what are you supposed to do? Are you supposed to die in silence? Is it important to speak out?
“And when you want to speak out, where and whom do you tell what you are going through?
“When you see a victim, are you supposed to blame the victim or to love that victim and help that victim out?’’
She urged everyone to support victims of gender-based violence noting: “There is abuse everywhere, speak out, share the experience and support the victims of gender-based violence.
Said that her organisation’s slogan is: “Say No to Gender-based Violence, Support the Victims.’’
The media practitioner called on those in abusive and life-threatening marriages to walk away from the union to avoid losing their lives.
A resource person at the event, Prof. Cajetan Iloh of Ebonyi State University, said societal expectations and perceptions were partly responsible for why victims of gender violence, especially celebrities, were not willing to speak out.
Iloh, a professor of Public Health, added that the fear of what the church and people would say had caused the likes of late Osinachi Nwachukwu to die avoidable deaths.
“Society needs to emphasise that people should speak out, ask for help and seek help wherever they can get it.
“Make sure you do not die of what you can prevent.
“Some of these cases are so violent that sometimes, you wonder how somebody can endure them (gender or domestic abuse) just because you want to conform to societal demands.
“So, I believe the key thing is for the people to be enlightened and for people to speak out rather than dying in silence,’’ Iloh said.
Contributing, the Manager, Enugu Centre of Tamar Sexual Assault Centre (TARMA SAC), Mrs Evelyn Onah, hinted that there was no justification for gender-based violence, which could either be physical, sexual or emotional.
Onah, however, regretted that most gender abuses were carried out by women, a development she maintained had worsened the gender-based violence in the society.
Also, a women advocate, Mrs Blessing Uchendu, urged the Enugu State Government to holistically implement the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Law, to curb gender-related abuses, which was alarming in rural communities.