By: Jeffrey Adzam…
The First lady of Benue State Dr. Eunice Ortom has called on stakeholders to support her efforts geared towards ending the entrenched culture of gender violence in the state.
The First Lady made this known yesterday 8th December during a stakeholders meeting on Activism For Gender Based Violence organised by the Office of the First Lady, UNFPA,CSO-B and ESLF.
Mrs Ortom said Gender Based Violence has thrived because the society has for long kept mute, giving the impression that such was the norm.
She said the essence of the meeting was to create awareness that acts of sexual violence are criminal and that rights of victims are respected.
The Wife of the Governor noted that it was important to create a safe haven for victims which was why relevant Government agencies and CSOs have been engaged in the conversation.
She was of the opinion that victims will only open up if traditional leaders, associations, groups and individuals key in to the new direction.
Mrs. Ortom reiterated her desire to reach out to the 23 Local Government Councils in the State through various mediums.
She stated that 16 days of activism on SGBV was testament to the commitment of partners to the cause.
Earlier in her address the Wife of the Deputy Governor, Justice Mary Abounu said it was important for women to be educated on their rights so that they are better equipped to seek justice in the event of any form of molestation.
In his remarks, Program Manager for ESLF Tine Agernor noted that the campaign revealed a culture of silence where couples do not want to discuss their sexual desires for fear of stereotyping.
He emphasised that child marriages in the various IDP camps was a source of worry as parents give out their daughters for cash or kind.
On her part,Caretaker Chairman for Oju Local Government Council, Mrs Alicia Eru pointed out that issues of sexual violence would be curbed if people return to traditional values of virtues and uphold moral standards.
She identified indecent dressing as part of the issues that encourage sexual abuse and called on parents to have eye on their wards.
On his part,the Zonal Commander of NAPTIP Ganiyu Aliyu informed the gathering that the agency was committed to ensuring Justice for victims of rape and called for cases to be reported promptly. Comrade Anngu Orngu spoke on behalf on Benue Youths and students were they made a commitment to take the message to other youths of Benue. He also said the male gender is some times also abused by the female gender too and that should also end.
There were good will messages from organizations such as Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria (FOMWAN), Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), National Council of Women Societies (NCWS) and Traditional leaders.
Earlier, a walk was held from High-Level Round About to Government house where women, men, boys and girls dressed in Orange tops to spread the message to environs.
Placards with various messages about ending Sexual and Gender Violence were also displayed.