Borno State Report:
With the rising spate of rape cases recorded in several States of Nigeria in recent times, concerns have been raised in Dalori 1 IDP camp in Konduga LGA of Borno State, about the need to protect girls by empowering them with knowledge through child-sex education, as well as information about Gender-based Violence (GBV). This has prompted the Borno State Civil Societies Network which includes Social Action, to launch a sensitisation campaign at the Dalori 1 IDP camp, with a view to creating massive awareness amongst teenage girls, about the dangers of sexual exploitation and the need to stay vigilant against sexual predators. The campaign which is slated to be a weekly sensitisation programme, commenced in June, 2020, and is aimed at reaching out to teenage girls who are referred to as Persons of Concern (POCs) in the camp.The inaugural event was an interactive forum between the facilitators who are members of the Civil Society groups and some teenage girls numbering 25, who live in the camp. The girls were encouraged to bare their minds about sexual exploitation, the misconceptions about child abuse and unresolved fears resulting from the cultural limitations to their rights and freedoms. Issues addressed by the facilitators at the session, include sexual violence, women’s rights, child abuse and gender equality.
The facilitators educated the girls on the different types of sexual violence, the dangers associated with GBV and its far-reaching consequences. The girls were informed at the forum that, GBV includes female genital mutilation (FGM), forced marriage, human trafficking, rape, attempted rape and gender inequality. Furthermore, the girls were enlightened on the effects of GBV, some of which are unwanted pregnancies, forced abortion and death. The facilitators stressed the need for the girls to know their rights, for all human beings have human rights that are non-negotiable and any cultural practice that promotes violence against girls, is harmful. Culture should not be a form of abuse and girls need to know that FGM and other barbaric practices that are done to subjugate the girl-child and promote gender inequality, are wrongful and must be stopped.
The highlight of the interactive event, was the Question and Answer session. The facilitators fielded questions from the audience, one of which was a question as to how to overcome the trauma of rape, which often haunts the victim for life. The attendees were told that victims of sexual abuse should seek help by way of professional counselling, in order to become survivors who can encourage other victims to overcome trauma.
At the end of the event, the girls expressed satisfaction at the positive impact made in their lives through the awareness campaign and pledged to share the knowledge gathered at the sensitisation, to others at the IDP camp.They also expressed their determination to comply with all they were taught and immediately report any act of sexual violence whenever it occurs.
Borno State is one of the States in Nigeria that is yet to adopt the Child Rights Act of 2003 and the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act of 2015, despite the insurgency and human rights violations that have besieged the State over the years. The Civil Societies Network urges the Borno State Government to adopt both legislations, which identify harmful cultural practices as crimes against humanity. If those laws are domesticated, GBV and child abuse will be outlawed, which offers better protection for women and girls.