Anambra NUJ Holds Youth Week Symposium In International Press Centre Awka

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The Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Anambra state council, in collaboration with the Kolors of Afrika Television has held its NUJ Youth Week symposium in Awka on April 26th, 2024.

The event which was held at the Godwin Ezeemo International Press Center Awka has as its theme “Unveiling The Spectrum of Gender Based Violence: Empowering the Youth for Collective Action”.
The chairman of the occasion, Hon. Emeka Aforka thanked the NUJ chairman Dr. Odogwu, for bringing the youths together for the symposium.

Speaking on the topic ‘ Unveiling The Spectrum of Gender Based Violence  ’ the keynote speaker, Mrs Okoye Nkiruka, appreciated all who attended the occasion.

While noting Gender Based Violence (GBV) is a menace to the society that needs urgent attention. She said that Gender Based Violence (GBV) comes in different versions like physical, emotional and psychological violence or sexual.

“It can be physical violence, it can be emotional violence, it’s physiological. It can be sexual.

“Gender-based violence involves man and woman in which female is usually affected but we’ve come to know that it’s not only women who are usually the target and that’s why we’re trying to encourage men should speak up.

“It can even start when a male child is born. A male child is trained to hide his feelings; not to express his emotions. For example, when something happens to the male child, he’ll try to cry and express his feelings, and people will be like you are a man, why are you crying? It is what brings more harm than good to men”, she says.

“Crying is a healing therapy but when you bottle things up, that’s why you see some men dying untimely because they couldn’t open up a lot of things and they ended up dying in silence.

She also said that sometimes men are the victims because most people believe that men can never be victims.

“And a lot of men are abused by their wives; they can be abused emotionally, they can even be abused physically. A lot of women are beating up their husbands. We have witnessed a man that was killed by his wife Because of the domestic violence”.

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“As I have said earlier, GBV includes battering which is physical abuse, emotional and other physical abuse especially if it’s a spousal battering when either the wife is beating the husband or the husband is doing the same.

There’s intimate partner violence including marital people. She also mentioned that killing of baby is also a violence of its own which can be regarded as infanticide. She gave an example where a young girl who gave birth to a male child and then tossed him in a pit latrine thereby killing him in the process, she was later charged with infanticide crime because the baby was not an adult.

She also talked about the alarming rate of child sexual abuse  “The rate at which our fellow children are being sexually abused is alarming. You’ll see a 9-month-old male child will be sexually abused. One case was discovered about how a 9-month-old was molested by his abuser. He touched his father and pointed at the abuser and pointed at his anus.

“He was later sent to Enugu for treatment and examination which later proved he was telling the truth that someone has been tampering with his anus. She also called upon every upcoming mother to be vigilant about their children so that such acts would not happen to them. “The most important thing is to establish communication with your children to know when something is wrong”. She said that Protecting every child around will help upcoming parents protect theirs because it will help one to know her surroundings.

Other GBV examples she mentioned are forced marriage and female genital mutilation.

She condemned the acts especially female genital mutilation which she referenced that it is not biblical to do so. She said that there’s a record in the bible where male children are to be circumcised on the 8th day and there are no such records for the female gender. She said that people who circumcised girls believe that if they don’t circumcise them, they’ll become promiscuous. She emphasised that female children should not be circumcised at all because “God created them in his infinite wisdom, it helps their sexual satisfaction as well and during childbirth.

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“Most women and their child die during childbirth because their clitoris had been cut off and the next thing, they’ll start calling those women Ogbanje”.

She hinted that some of the perpetrators of female genital mutilation had switched methods as they discovered that there were other ways to reduce the mortality rate during childbirth.

“Due to the high mortality rate amongst pregnant women dying during childbirth, they decided to switch to another method called numbing to numb that particular part of the body, some of the parents are still doing it and some of us are still learning without knowing why they do it.

“Most mothers who go for child visit, use very hot water on that part of the female child and when she’s done, she’ll use vaseline, dusting powder and sometimes scent leave; after the whole thing, the clitoris will be insensitive which has negative effects on the life of the child.

Sexual harassment was another GBV she elaborated on which she said that most men take for granted like hugging without the person’s consent and other ones such as touching breasts and buttocks.

She said there’s a law in place to deter such behaviour in Anambra and it’s called the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) which was enacted in 2017. 

“The law is used to prosecute whosoever that’s found guilty of gender-based violence”.

She emphasised on importance of reporting GBV incidents on the way they happened and mentioned how NUJ Chairman, Dr Emeka Odogwu reported exactly an incident that occurred in the year 2010.

She said that a lot of young girls were being lured abroad with the hope of a better life there only to end up with prostitution and other horrible things they might engage in.

She said that working with the commissioner of women’s affairs Ify Obinabo had yielded positive results as stories of some of her interventions had been remarkable.

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“Since the year 2002 GBV unit in the ministry, till today, we have recovered over one thousand (1000) reported cases of GBV.”

She said that getting/reporting evidence of GBV is a way the victims can be helped and evidence that would damage victims’ image shouldn’t be shared for others to see or better still, the faces of the victims should be blurred.

Speaking further, she advised that rape victims shouldn’t take their baths for the sole purpose of getting accurate evidence when taken to the doctor for examination.

“Anytime someone is raped, that person shouldn’t wash that part, because all this is evidence you can use to secure justice in the court of law”.
She said that the first help given to rape victims should be to take the person to the police station to report the rape and then to the hospital within 72 hrs of the rape to preserve the evidence and protect the victim from potential sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

She further urges rape victims to speak up about their ordeal for a faster healing process.  She also urged parents to open up to their kids about what each part of the body is called especially the private parts of the body. She further urged GBV victims to report their ordeal especially men as Ify Obinabo is ready to render any help she can give.

The second speaker of the day, Mr Ikechukwu Umeh
explained how Information Communication and Technology can help in curbing GBV in the state. He said that information is vital as it can move from the sender to the destination and it is all about getting pictures, and video evidence in a confidential manner to help victims get justice.

Other speakers are Maazi Ejimofor Okpara (APGA National Publicity Secretary), and Ebuka Igwe (Member rep Idemili-South constituency, Anambra House of Assembly). Professor Stella Okunna.

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