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DAY 12 OF 16-DAYS-OF-ACTIVISM AGAINST SGBV 2021: BENUE STATE SGBV COMMITTEE TAKES ADVOCACY TO OTUKPO, GBOKO, OTHER L.G.A.s

In continuation with activities of this year’s 16-Days-of-Activism Against SGBV The Benue State Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) Policy and Advocacy Committee, domiciled in the Office of the First Lady of Benue State, has taken its campaign to 8 Local Government Areas of Otukpo, Apa, Agatu, Ado, Buruku, Logo, Gboko and Gwer East Local Government Areas on Day-12 of the global event.

At Otukpo, the advocacy team led by a member of the SGBV Committee and Senior Special Assistant/Protocol Officer in the Office of the State’s First Lady, Mr. Dan Azembe as well as wife of the Council Chairman of Otukpo, Mrs. Zainab George Alli sensitised a women group at the Council Secretariat and students of Wesley High School, Otukpo decrying the prevalence of Gender Based Violence (GBV) in the society. They charged people to break the culture of silence by reporting perpetrators to appropriate authorities urging the students to report first to trusted tutors and their principal.

While Azembe tasked schools to set up GBV clubs to help propagate GBV messages among students and staff, Mrs. George Alli praised the State First Lady, Dr. Eunice Ortom for driving the campaign against SGBV in the State using the SGBV Committee and cautioned against bullying and cultism in schools

On his part, anti-GBV advocate and Media Officer, Eunice Spring of Life Foundation (ESLF), Emmanuel Umele, charged them to report cases of abuses in their homes and schools by calling the toll free line 08031230478 and other lines contained in fliers that were distributed for prompt response. He explained that rape was not restricted to only female as males too could fall victims and added that sex with anyone below the age of 18 was considered as rape since such a person was still below the age of consent.

Principal of Wesley High School, Otukpo, Mr. Achigili Emmanuel Magaji who commended the State for sensitizing his students, affirmed that their admonitions complement the strict disciplinary disposition of the school which gives no room for indiscipline and runs an open door policy that encourages reporting of abuses.

At the St. Mary Local Government Education Area Primary School, Ado, the Programme Manager of ESLF who also serves as member of the Committee, Tine Agernor shared fliers bearing messages and contact phone numbers on GBV, reviewed the awareness session and rally carried out by the school against the scourge.

At Apa and Agatu, Dr. Maryam Yakubu who serves in the Committee and Programme Officer Health of ESLF, Dooyum Orkar in conjunction with the First Ladies of both Local Government Areas noted that RAPE, which is sex without consent, remains one of the most heinous forms of SGBV prevalent in the society and urged all to desist from it.

They cautioned against rape, unhealthy sexual behaviour and encouraged people to guard against abuses from sex predators who could prey on them by touching their private parts.

At Buruku, Gboko and Logo L.G.A., two SGBV Committee members, Barr. Hembafan Utange and the Imam of Gboko Central Mosque condemned all forms of SGBV and warned against Child Early and Forced Marriage (CEFM), Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), Child Abuse, Psychological/Emotional Abuse, Physical and Sexual Assault, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA).

Finally in Gwer East, Zonal Commandant, National Agency for Prohibition Against Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Benue State Command, Gloria Bai sensitised people against the dangers of SGBV and warned of the dire consequences for perpetrators.

The Benue State Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) Policy and Advocacy Committee was inaugurated last year by Dr. Eunice Ortom to co-ordinate SGBV policies, response and activities in the State.

Emmanuel Enenche Umele

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