Thursday, December 3, 2009

16 Days of Activism - "Men Walk" on 2nd December 2009

As part of its campaign to mark the 2009 “16 Days against Gender Based Violence” campaign, the BAOBAB team with its network of “Men against Violence against Women” in the lead, took the advocacy to the streets! While in a particular popular area of Lagos known for its busy commercial bus activities-called ‘Oshodi’, the team shared anti-gender based violence messages with the crowd – heightened with the aid of their traditional talking drums! ‘Ohhh’ was the almost unsaid expression on their faces as they appreciated the fact that men are now in the fore-front of advocating the end of violence against women. And…guess what? The BAOBAB led network of men ran out of the IEC anti gender-based materials as the demand for them was so overwhelming! However, this ‘minor crisis’ of IEC material shortage did not deter the team, who carried on with their verbal messages and talking drums. The team captured some of the comments by the men on the streets:

“I believe women also have rights. Men should give their wives respect and their rights should be given to them”

“A sensible man should know that he must take good care of his wife.”

“There must be love between a man and a woman, love is an accord anchored in man and woman before becoming one as a union. Love is essential. If my wife upsets me, first thing to do is to calm down. Even the bible says “both of you are helpmates, so one is not a slave for another. I believe my wife is my sister and if she did something wrong, I should be able to correct her not beat her.”

But –someone else thinks differently:

“No no no no, I don't agree with you people. What if a woman slaps me, I'm talking from experience. No no no, I don't agree with you people... (he started narrating a story)

The team on the street observed that women were highly appreciative of the fact that men were committed to ending violence against women. Then -there was the Drama! The street theatre was very strategic and enabled the public to engage directly in a conversation on issues highlighted –such as sexual harassment of girls by Commercial bus drivers (hmm-that rang a bell with most), as well as domestic violence and other forms of violence. It was also a great opportunity for the BAOBAB team to inform and/or remind the public that, Hei -“We now have a law against Domestic Violence in Lagos State and any perpetrator will be punished!” View the photos of the campaign below!

16 Days of Activism - Press Briefing on 25th November 2009

As part of the activities to mark the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence, BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights hosted twelve (12) journalists from the print and electronic media to a press briefing on the 25th of November 2009.

The Executive Director of BAOBAB informed the media personnel present that gender based violence has been a cause for concern, not only in Nigeria but across the world which of course can be attributed to the patriarchal notion of control tied to various cultural beliefs that has given rise to the systemic discrimination against women in private and public spheres. She further mentioned that the manifestations of these practices include deeply rooted obnoxious cultural practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM), widowhood rites, and early and/or forced marriages amongst others thereby making Gender Based Violence to be one of the most heinous and prevalent cause of human rights abuses in the world, and is a threat to all women no matter their class or status, and an obstacle to all human efforts for development, peace and gender equality in all societies.

The agenda for the day also had a 30 minutes documentary shown to the journalists on cases of violence against women and BAOBAB’s work and intervention to that effect. The documentary showcased true stories and cases of different forms of violence against women in Nigeria. It featured some important highlights of the Mock Tribunal on Violence Against Women BAOBAB did in year 2001 in Abuja.

This medium was used to call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to act as a matter of urgency to domesticate and implement the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) which it signed and ratified without reservation in 1985 as part of Nigerian national laws. She emphasized that having laws that protect women from violence is a strategic step towards reducing the occurrence of Gender Based Violence and according women their rightful place in the development of Nigeria as a great nation.

The choice of the press briefing as part of activities to mark the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence was also to sensitise media personnel on how they report cases of women’s human rights. Journalists were implored to report cases of gender based violence and women’s human rights issues from a gender perspective as it is evident that their thoughts to a great extent affect the way they report. BAOBAB stands by its belief that there is never any reason to inflict violence against women and adopts a zero tolerance attitude to Gender Based Violence.

Monday, November 23, 2009

'16 days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence” campaign.

Over the years, BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights (BAOBAB) joins the rest of the world to organize and take part in activities to mark the “16 days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence” campaign. BAOBAB sees violence against women as an issue that goes beyond race, class, religion and continents. This is a situation that affects not just one woman in her little space but every woman across the world. Our mission is to promote and protect women’s human rights principally via improving knowledge, exercise and development of rights under the customary statutory and religious laws in Nigeria.
The “16 days…” campaign provides the space for BAOBAB to further advocate and sensitize various stakeholders on the negative effects of Gender Based Violence and also to promote the work of women who risk their lives trying to protect the lives of other women.
Our activities and specific areas of focus for this year’s campaign include:
A press briefing on Gender Based Violence: the need for the Media as well as other stakeholders to act and demand a stop to it.
• Street drama/Popular theatre to highlight the ills of Gender based violence at the popular Oshodi Commercial Bus Stop environs in Lagos state, Nigeria.
• A rally with the network of ‘Men Against Violence Against Women (MAVAW)’, and dissemination of anti- Gender Based Violence materials and stickers.
• Street drama/Popular theatre to highlight the ills of Gender Based Violence at 2 schools in the Apapa Local Government Area of Lagos state, Nigeria.
• There will also be various activities organized by four (4) of BAOBAB’s community based volunteer outreach teams (Osun, Taraba, Borno and Zamfara states) in the respective states to mark the campaign.

The choice of these locations in Lagos State (Apapa Local Government Area and Oshodi Bus Stop) is born out of the need to see a change in these areas especially Oshodi in particular, which has a high rate of violence against women due to the social activities that take place there such as petty trading, commercial vehicle activities, and so forth. The choice of Apapa Local Government Area however is based on BAOBAB’s style of reaching a wider coverage as this is an area that is usually over looked in the course of women’s human rights interventions.

We hope to, with these activities, achieve a better public awareness of Gender-Based Violence and more commitment by the general public towards making a change!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Somali woman stoned for adultery

A 20-year-old woman divorcee accused of committing adultery in Somalia has been stoned to death by Islamists in front of a crowd of about 200 people.

A judge working for the militant group al-Shabab said she had had an affair with an unmarried 29-year-old man.

He said she gave birth to a still-born baby and was found guilty of adultery. Her boyfriend was given 100 lashes.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rising Trend of Fundamentalism

“There is a rising trend of fundamentalism – Cultural, Religious, & Class. This threatens the sanity of human race and majorly has women at the receiving end. How can women defend their rights and make “HER” voice heard? Please do make comments on your views and possible, yet realistic approach/solution to combat fundamentalisms. Thanks”.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Boko Haram, an Islamic sect in Nigeria hits Bauchi, Borno - Wunmi Akinbodunse

An Islamic sect called Boko Haram which means "Western education is sin" the group behind the latest violence in some parts of Northern Nigeria believe that western education corrupts the ideas, belief and values of the Islamic religion, consequently they stand to defend it. Most members of this group are said to be school drop outs and those educated, destroy their degree certificates as a symbol of solidarity to their belief.

The violence started in Bauchi and later escalated to other neighbouring states like Borno, Adamawa, Kano and Katsina.

This group has been in existence for sometime; they are notorious for kidnapping, raping, intimidation and molestation, they take laws into their hands as the authourity failed to challenge them. Ironically, despite their belief, according to the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) in charge of Zone 12, Bauchi, Moses Anegbode " they forbid anything western yet their leader had an array of western materials in his possession such as phone, Jeep cars”. Continuing he wondered if they were made by him”

Once again women are at the receiving end of this violence as they become the widows of the dead victims of the violence/clash between the sect and the police have the onerous burden to provide for the family. Given that the sect members are mostly young men, widows they left behind would obviously be young given also the prevalence of early marriage in that region. The situation has the potential of constraining these women to go into prostitution or be lured into trafficking for the promise of better life else where, which in reality does not exist. Other women whose spouses are casualties and suffered either permanent or temporary disabilities will have to bear the burden of care giving and also providing for other needs of the family.