Story by Carlos Afanou

Today, 10th December, 2020, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) organized art exhibition to climax this year’s Sixteen (16) days of Activism against Sexual and Gender Based violence (SGBV), this is to showcase and depict cases of violence and stories of victims.

The exhibition was also used as a platform to throw more light on cases of violence as well as to allow victims to share their stories and experiences.

The 16 Days Activism which started from November 25th to December 10th, 2020 is an international campaign to advocate against violence against women and girls in our society.

Welcoming dignitaries and other stakeholders to the art exhibition, the Country Representative of the UNFPA, Mr. Niyi Ojuolape acknowledged the active participation of young people and their

enthusiasm in the fight against SGBV.

According to him, the young people have exhibited a high sense of commitment and willingness to rewrite the story of violence against women and girls in the country.

Describing SGBV as a silent pandemic raging in the country and Africa at large, he pointed out that, it was time for all stakeholders to rise and collectively end such violence against women and girls in the various communities and societies.

To that effect, UNFPA, Mr. Ojuolope stated, has partnered with key stakeholders such as the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP) to address and fight this raging pandemic as a united front and force.

Emphasizing that, “we all have a role to play, so when you see a situation where someone is being affected by SGBV, please report to the nearest authorities so that, his or her life can be saved”.

Giving her message, the Chief Director of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP), Dr. Afisah Zakariah appreciated the importance and the need to eradicate Sexual Gender Based Violence in our communities and society with immediate effect.

To her, many people, especially young people have been victims of SGBV on daily basis, and therefore, expressed her gratitude to the UNFPA and other stakeholders for identifying art as a new avenue and platform to showcase the plight of victims of SGBV to the society and the world.

Dr. Zakariah used the occasion to appeal and call on all and sundry to come together to eradicate this canker that dwells in our homes, communities and societies so that, as a nation, we can live happily as one people.

Taking her turn, the Director of Domestic Violence & Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU), Chief Superintendent Owusuwaa Kyeremeh revealed that, most SGBV cases are not able to be handled to their fullest conclusion because most families of the victims opt for home settlement, hence the unit finds it difficult to prosecute such cases.

“Sometimes, we go to court, the victim(s), witnesses among others do not turn up for the cases to be heard, therefore, such cases are not persuaded”, she bemoaned.

She therefore appealed to such families to stop pressuring victims to settle SGBV cases out of court if as a society and country we want to fight and eradicate sexual and gender based violence among women and girls.

Chief Superintendent Kyeremeh indicated that, her unit is putting measures in place to ensure SGBV cases are dealt with to serve as deterrent to others who think they can abuse women and

young girls and go unpunished.

She therefore called on the media to assist the unit in its sensitisation drive of the public on issues that border on rape, other social vices that affect women and the recent upsurge of gang rape among the youth.

The Deputy Representative of the UNFPA, Dr. Agnes Ntibanyurwa reiterated the need for continuous education and spread of vital and useful information even when the 16 Days Activism Campaign comes to an end.

Stressing that, continuation of the campaign will help and empower young girls and women to be informed as to what to do and where to report such abuses for immediate response and protection.

As part of the exhibition, a youth panelists shared their experiences and discussed how art can be used to disseminate information for young girls and women to understand and report any form of SGBV in their homes, communities and societies.

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