Projectasha.Org Educate Boys on the Culture of Consent
Rape and sexual abuse have in recent times, been a reoccurring feature in campuses around Nigeria due to the absence of a culture of consent or consensual sex. Gradually from University campuses, the culture is now transferring to the wider society. Rape and all forms of sexual abuse are CRIMES. The best way to change perceptions and tackle this problem would be to nip it in the bud. Therefore Projectasha.Org launched its ASHA FUTURE MEN PROJECT targeted at boys in secondary schools to draw awareness to this crime and highlight the role of consent in a respectful relationship. We want to thank the Lagos State Government (Ministry of Education) of granting us the permission to deliver the program is state owned schools. We also want to thank the Principals of the schools we have so far visited.
During the programme Team ASHA defined rape culture and consent. Rape culture refers to the way sexual violence is condoned, excused, tolerated and normalized through social behaviour, attitudes and images; while consent means the agreement to freely engage in an activity by choice in which the individuals have and exercise their capacity to make choices in the hope that their choice will be respected.
Team ASHA also drew attention to cyber space and online pornography where the culture of consent is blurred and active support for sexual violence is commonplace. Team ASHA then turned attention to TV programmes and cultural norms that place the onus on girls to protect themselves, dress moderately and learn how to live in “a man’s world”. Whereas boys and young men are taught to believe that “anything goes in a man’s world” and enjoy immunity of some sort from accountability for their crimes due to victim blaming. Team ASHA is asking and seeking that these harmful values and belief system are challenged and overturned.
In the 1st round of school education, Team ASHA’s goal was to tackle the issue at the root by reforming mindsets and correct already existing myth concerning Rape and Consent Culture for boys. The first series of ASHA Future Men Project school seminars was entitled “The Issues of Rape and Consent Culture in Schools”.
This seminar is directed at high school aged children especially boys because not only are they the focus, they could also act as advocates in their communities. The seminar also aims at enlightening boys who would become strong advocates for the women who are at the epicentre. The seminars were facilitated by Aderoju Okunsanmi, who is the Team Leader of the Strong Girl Network - an organisation delivering an anti-HIV and Teenage pregnancy sexual education across schools in Oyo State.
According to Ms Okunsanmi: “if people understood the importance of consent, they will appreciate each other more”. She broadened the demanding role of boys in protecting and speaking up for the girls, buttressing that the relationship between the boys and the girls is more of ‘equality’ and not ‘predator to prey’. In a society where girls are blamed in most cases of rape, more boys should stand up and speak up for girls with a synergy and collaboration of efforts to ensure reasonable change.
from L- R: Onajome chadwick, Mrs. Olori Kalejaiye Rep. Education District 2, Maryland, Mrs. Aderoju, Mr. Samuel, Waribugo Joseph and Ms. Favour Obi Chinwe
The seminar co- facilitaror is Obi Nicholas Favour Chinwe, a Public Health Practitioner, who has participated in several programs across Nigeria to enhance the physical, mental, emotional and social wellbeing of the public. She spoke on reassuring the girl child. Ms Chinwe pointed out the grave injustice suffered by people with low self-esteem, and victims/survivors of diverse forms of abuse. In extreme cases of sexual or emotional abuse, victims have been reported to commit suicide, become hyper-anxious and fearful, developed poor self-image, and suffer stigmatization and mental illness
Students with their pledge cards and Team ASHA
Ms Chinwe further explained that young girls need reassurance and positivity of the mind. Many girls still struggle with accepting their self-image, disliking their bodies, suffering body shaming, and self-guilt whereas the perpetrator is to blame. Ms Chinwe called on girls to stop self-sabotage and embrace and love themselves just the way they are.
Moving forward, the students in attendance pledged commitments to become active advocates for the culture of consent and acts as ASHA ambassadors for youth change.
Project ASHA will partner with the state government, to ensure that victims of rape and other forms of sexual abuse receive legal redress
Details for future seminars will be published after current Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.
Report by Joseph Waribugo with contributions from Aderoju Okunsanmi and Obi Nicholas Favour Chinwe
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