Sexual violence: Group canvasses reorientation of men’s mindset

An NGO, Life After Abuse Foundation (LAAF) has called for sensitisation and reorientation of men and boys’ mindsets on the protection of equal rights for women and girls.

The foundation’s Founder, Ms Halima Layeni, made the call at a lecture organised by LAAF in collaboration with Lagos State University Medical Students Association (LASUMSA), to mark the ‘International Youth Day’ on Saturday in Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of the lecture is: “Youth action to promote healthy masculinity, as a tool for systematic change.”

International Youth Day is celebrated annually on Aug. 12 to mark the contribution of youths to the development of the society and raise awareness about the problems faced by young people around the globe.

Layeni said there was need to engage boys and men in progressive conversations on protection of equal right for women and girls, as well as to raise awareness on the stigma surrounding men’s mental health.

She said that a lot of boys and men were ignorant of women’s rights, adding that lack of knowledge and education were some reasons most men engaged in sexual assault on the female counterparts.

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According to her, there is need to sensitise and reorient the mindset of men and boys to understand the issue of gender-equality and the need for healthy masculinity.

Layeni emphasised the need for creation of safe spaces, systems and structures for men, where they could go to speak out and seek help when faced with traumas or sexual violence.

“We have come to realise that most of the social vices faced in the country like sexual abuse, kidnapping, gun violence, terrorism, cultism and gender-based violence can easily be eradicated if we pay attention to men’s mental health.

”We find out that most of these vices are being perpetrators mostly by men,” she said.

She also stressed the need to create more safe spaces, systems and structures  that attended to emotional and psychological needs of boys and men.

”There are many psychosocial support centres for women and girls where they can go to speak out and seek help.

”So, there is need to ensure that these same systems and structures are put in place for men and boys as well, because I believed that the future is for both male and female,” Layeni said.

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She also decried the belief and mentality of most men that sex was their entitlement and as a result, women’s bodies belonged to them.

”There is this privilege that men grew up with – a lot of them have this mentality that sex is their entitlement.

“But, I believe that by the time we begin to reorient and sensitise them to women and girls’ rights, we will begin to see changes.

”And this can happen at the grassroots level, on every level – even on the cultural, religious and political level,” Layeni said.

Also, a mental health advocate, Mr Seun Dosunmu, urged the government to make policies and lagal frameworks that would help to effectively address sexual violence in the society.

Dosunmu, Founder, Across All Initiative For Mental Health and Stigma Eradication, an NGO, said a lot of men suffered cases of sexual abuse, which had been neglected in the society.

”If a man comes out to complain about being sexually abused by a girl or a woman, the society should pay attention to him and take it up.

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”So, going forward, there’s need to put policies, raise advocacies and create structural programmes that will privatise men inclusion so that any woman/girl that sexually abuses a man will equally be punished.

”We need to drive education campaigns to the schools, churches and homes that see to the enlightenment, because if we don’t enlighten people on what is wrong, then it becomes a lifestyle.

”In fact, some people are still not knowledgeable enough to know that men can equally be raped,” he said.

The President of LASUMSA, Mr Habeeb Moshood, called for creation of more rehabilitation programmes and centres that could help rehabilitate sexually abused victims.

Moshood urged the Federal Government to intensify efforts to ensure eradication of all forms of drug abuse/trafficking in the country, adding that most perpetrators of the social vices were under the influence of drug abuse. (NAN) 

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