The law prohibiting Domestic Violence in Lagos state was passed in 2007, however, a DFID/SAVI sponsored survey showed that the rate of awareness of this law is very low, to this end, the Lagos State Gender Advocacy Team (LASGAT), in partnership with Civil Society Organizations, Law Enforcement Agencies, Media Houses and Cooperate bodies organized the week of Action to publicize the law.
Outreaches were held in over 20 Local Governments in Lagos State, other avenues utilized are facebook and twitter, television and radio stations, online and print media.
Ajegunle, like many other communities around the world, is rife with cases of domestic and gender based violence, child abuse, defilement, education deprivation, vagina douching with ground pepper, teenage pregnancy and many other vices, this ASHA gathered from working with the teenage girls under the Empowering Women of the Future project in the community for the last two years.
This campaign was led by the LASGAT Coordinator, Barr Titi Akosa and ASHA’s Global Programmes Director, Vweta Chadwick.
Target and Goal
Our target was to reach at least 1000 members of this community with informative fliers; 1000 houses and cars with informative stickers; 200 persons with printed copies of the Directory of Organizations providing support services for victims of domestic/gender based violence, rape, economic exploitation, battery etc and to reach at least 5000 people with campaign message spoken over a public address system at markets, busstops and busy areas.
These targets were met and exceeded as we eventually ran out of sensitization materials for distribution and simply resorted to sensitization over the public address system.
Going forward, it was established that there is very low awareness level of domestic violence in Ajegunle;
Almost everyone we met had not heard about the domestic violence law;
Many persons especially women said wife beating is justified in certain cases;
Almost all persons we met and spoke to were totally unaware of organizations providing support to rape victims and victims of domestic violence;
No one seemed aware of police stations providing support services to victims of domestic and gender based violence;
Many women who confided in us about being repeatedly abused by the husbands/partners were totally unaware of safe shelters for women and children;
Most women we spoke with favoured mediation approaches in resolving cases involving domestic violence over litigation, this we found is due to the high rate of stigmatization accompanying women who are ‘whistleblowers’;
Many parents were unaware that education deprivation, vaginal douching, beating their children with objects and/or cutting them with razor blades is a crime.
There should be more campaigns such as this one at least once every month to sensitize members of the community about some of the vices that are rife in the community;
Campaigns like this should emphasize the need for survivors to speak out and for victims to get support in cases of domestic and gender based violence;
More awareness campaigns should be targeted at publicising the telephone numbers, names and address of organizations providing intervention services for victims of domestic violence;
Protection and support services should be made available to persons who choose to be ‘whistleblowers’ on behalf of the voiceless in the community to prevent reprisal attacks.
In the fight against all forms of violence against women, ASHA recognizes men and boys as allies and encourages them to use their privileged positions in lending their support. We are grateful the Director, Media and Public Relation, AfrodisiacBay, Mr Ehijie Edoro for joining us in Ajegunle for this campaign.