International Day of The Girl Child, 2017

The International Day of the girl child is celebrated on the 11th of October every year, the world over.

The general theme according to the UN Women is tagged, “Empower girls: Before, during and after conflict. Many parts of the world in recent times have various forms of conflicts and war. No continent is left out of the heart wrenching mindless killings. Families and everyone who find themselves caught in these conflicts suffer so much loss no doubt.

In Nigeria, we have the Boko Haram conflict in the northeast and many girls and women have been abducted. They are made to cook, clean and carry out the menial chores for the terrorist. Aside these,  the girls are forced to become young wives and mothers. I can not imagine the emotional trauma and conflicts that go on in the minds of these victims. Thankfully some have regained their freedom. How much of rehabilitation work is being done to reintegrate them into society is another matter entirely. But many other girls were used as child suicide bombers and others caught in between the crossfire lost their lives.

It is my hope and great heart desire that the war against insurgency and terrorism will be won in the northeast Nigeria and the world over. (This feels like a very tall dream). But we can still make the world safer for every girl and everyone as we each person begins to value peace and other human beings.

Adebisi Adetunji(C)

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Just thinking Out Aloud… Are we paying enough Attention to our Boys & Men? key to Gender equality and creating a safe environment for women & Girls

We talk so much about empowering women and girls that I feel we are beginning to leave the boys and men far behind in the scheme of things. Leaving them behind would only hinder our goal of achieving a world of equal opportunity; safety and well-being of women and girls.

 

 

Examples of what I mean
1) A few months ago(May 2017) there was a joint cry raised against boys from a secondary school in Lagos who after finishing their final exams decided that the best way to celebrate was to physically/sexually assault the girls. They were practically tearing the skits and gowns of their fellow school girls with razor blades and had sport attempting to force themselves on these girls. Thanks to one brave woman who stood and raised alarm to save some of these girls. It was a very disturbing and mind boggling story for me.

My question is this: What are we teaching our sons? Are we teaching them to value girls and respect them? Are we teaching them that a real man protects and not hurt or harm? Catch them young is the solution here.

2) In my office these days we seem to have more women in employment more than men. It is so funny sometimes when deciding for dual presentation programs where we need a male and a female, we meet a wall. There are not enough men to go round….hahaha. Then we start asking “where are all the men?” It looks like more women are determined to get an education and succeed. Now, this is a good thing going by the past and even presently in some communities and homes where girls are still prevented from getting an education. Trends of women gainfully employed have evolved over time.More women are likely to have earned a bachelor’s degree by age 29 according to U.S department of labor blog.  More women have become providers in the home although the matter of equal payment still varies from country to country. In Nigeria at least I know for a fact that in government organizations men and women earn equal pay as long as they are on the same level e.g L10.

Balance is what I am advocating for here:

While inspiring, empowering and encouraging girls and women let’s not leave our boys and men behind. This is key to gender equality and women’s access to freedom, safety, and progress.

When a father treats his wife well and shows her respect, his son will likely learn from him.

When mothers teach their sons to respect girls and treat them as equals and not inferior then he will know how to treat all the girls and women around him.

Catch them young, teach right values; share the chores in the home; teach him to become a responsible adult and man.

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

Woman to Woman Talk #14 – Beware when taking a Taxi – Where to Get Help For Rape Victims #Nigeria

A dear girl shared her story about a horrible experience after boarding a taxi. I will call her Bimbo. On this fateful day, Bimbo arrives town on a visit to see a few friends. It was evening and she was in a hurry to pick a taxi to get her to her destination before it gets dark.

A cab stopped right by her and she quickly scanned to be sure the passengers were not all men as that connotes that it might not be safe to board. Luckily there was a woman in the taxi so Bimbo was at ease boarding it. A few minutes after they took off the driver went in a direction that raised her danger alarm bells. It turned out that the driver and passengers were intent on robbing her. If they had only robbed her Bimbo would have only had to count her losses in terms of money. In fact, when these cab thieves did not find enough money on Bimbo they collected her ATM and withdrew all that was left in her account. The most disheartening thing was that the male passengers even raped her while a fellow woman watched!!! Bimbo was robbed of her possession and her body. She cursed these passengers which included men a woman.

When it comes to RAPE Silence is not Golden.

 

I asked Bimbo whether she reported this matter to anyone. She refused to tell anyone that she was raped except when she and I had a chat recently. Bimbo was too ashamed. She visited a clinic to take care of any pregnancy that could occur as a result of the rape but what about the emotional and psychological wounds. Bimbo was too ashamed to tell anyone and my heart really goes out to her. I was really disturbed and mad about what happened to Bimbo. She will need to be helped to overcome any trauma still lurking in her heart.

How can you protect yourself from being robbed or raped when taking a taxi?

  • There are parking garages for taxis going to any part of the town. Usually, taxis line up in a queue waiting to get a full number of passengers before taking off to their destinations. Most times you and I are not willing to wait patiently for the taxi/cab to get filled and so we pick what is known as soole in Yoruba that is taxis who are on the move by the road side. So you jump in not knowing whether they are robbers or rapists even! Please be careful
  • Get out of your home or office early enough and pick a taxi at the motor park instead of taking just anyone you see on the road.
  • Avoid late night waka waka o

Help For Rape Victims

I present to you an organization with a vision to create a society where women, men, and children are free from rape and sexual violence:

STAND TO END RAPE INITIATIVE

I am Standing to End Rape: Join Me & Others

Their services include but not limited to:
• Peer mentoring for rape survivors
• Therapeutic sessions with healthcare professionals
• Counseling, support, and treatment

Contact Information:
S.T.E.R Initiative
No 1A, Kola Adeyina Close, Lekki Phase 1
Mobile: +2348095967000
Email: contactus@standtoendrape.org
standtoendrape@gmail.com

S.T.E.R Initiative work on cases in various states in Nigeria, simply reache out to the team.

Remember don’t be silent, speak up and help to end rape
Speaking up means you get help as a rape victim survivor.

Please be safe; stay safe
Adebisi Adetunji ©

I Simply Love this: Young Men Network Against Sexual and Gender Based Violence #EndFGMNG

In my line of work as a media expert, development communication consultant and recently a social media influencer, I have met a number of men who are passionate about protecting women against all forms of discrimination and are advocates of women’s rights. But seeing and meeting a group of men advocating against sexual and Gender Based violence…It is just so thrilling for me. The Youngmen network is made up of active members from all walks of life across the country in Nigeria.

You see this says to me that women are not alone.
It also tells me that men and women can be on the same team.

And then this question also comes to mind: What are we teaching our sons? They are the ones who become men tomorrow and they will treat a woman the way we taught them as families or society. It is time to pay attention to teaching our sons right values; teach them how to respect and appreciate the women in their lives.

There is just no need for the power tussle.
And while I and everyone are pushing for the education and right treatment of girls let us not fail to educate our boys.

How did I arrive here? I have been part of a two day workshop organized by the Young men Network Against Sexual and Gender Based Violence with focus on ending Female Genital Mutilation. It is a down to earth dialogue filled workshop.

Lessons & Discussion Points on FGM
Ending FGMC is not about throwing away our culture as a people, it is about stopping harmful practices.
FGM does not prevent a woman from being promiscuous as is the belief. This is totally hinged on the kind of training and upbringing or how such a child is nurtured.
Culture is not static. It is dynamic and changes from time to time/place to place.
Current data shows that 22 million women in Nigeria have undergone Female genital mutilation.
FGM is so called and not female circumcision because it is not the same as male circumcision. According to medical findings male circumcision has some health benefits and it is only one type – The removal of the foreskin. However in women, cutting is up to four types which mean everyone decides how far they want to go with cutting and scraping a woman’s vagina(Not funny)
Type three of FGM called Infibulation requires that the labia(lips of the vagina) be cut and it is sewn leaving only a small hole for urinating and mensuration! (This leaves me shivering) She is cut open when she gets married to allow sexual intercourse and in some culture when the husband is traveling the vagina is sewn and closed up until the man returns! Come on….this is just too much torture and pain.
• FGM causes mental and physical harm.
• Although at the national level in Nigeria the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPP) had been signed into law since 2015, enforcing it and adoption by states remains an issue. Under the VAPP law, the act of FGM/C is punishable with a 5years imprisonment or a fine of N100, 000. If you ask me this fine should be like 5million.

The discussion is still ongoing and the way forward is to keep dialoguing with communities and people about FGMC. There is a need for more and continuous education and education about what this practice means to the women and girls concerned and to the family unit at large.

Facilitators/Speakers:

Sola Fagorusi – Onelife Initiative for Human Development

Ayodeji Osowobi – Stand to End Rape

Adebisi Adetunji(C)

Personal Story: What you Stand to Gain from that Extra Work your Boss gives

women-workEight years ago on the corridor my boss handed me a bulky script to work on and produce on the station’s radio drama serial- Tales of life. I took a deep breath, collected the script and wondered how i was going to manage producing it in the midst of my many already scheduled weekly recording.

When I finally settled down to read through the script UFIALA…I was drawn in. It was such a rich story that focused on something I am passionate about. Women and girls.

The story is about a rapist on the loose in a community. Young girls preparing for marriage are afraid to go the village stream alone or anywhere else for that matter. This rapist even raped  married women. One in particular called Chika committed suicide because her in-laws blamed her for the incidence and believed that she had brought a curse on their family. That is where the story begins…

I enjoyed reading through the story but it wasn’t ready and perfect for recording yet. It needed to be rewritten and mechanized to fit into a radio drama. Nobody was going to pay for this!!… I thought to myself but…

When your boss gives you an assignment you better do it.

Now you can decide to do it really well or just do it for the sake of doing it.

Well I decided to give it my best shot. It was a lot of work rewritting and even adding some scenes; auditioning for casts; studio recording and editing. The other thing that was a bit stressful was getting a praise singer for the king’s court. And guess what…It was a story set in an Igbo cultural environment.

You have no idea what this meant to me…I was in Yoruba land, the south west Nigeria. So I contacted my Igbo brother, Emeka Darlyton who got me someone to do it…I can’t remember paying the artist but I did have to give him transportation fee. All these for a story authored by someone I didn’t know from Adam and I wasn’t getting paid for the extra work done.

When the story Ufiala did hit the airwaves it was a great success. It went on to be broadcast on the Network service of Radio Nigeria, Abuja.

And In 2011, I got a phone call telling me that I had just won the award for the best producer of the year, National!! Wao…all due to my production work on the story…Ufiala!

The most rewarding part was that I got to meet the writer of the story, Tokunbo Dada after it had been produced and broadcast. Today we have become a formidable radio drama team. I call him my right hand man and brother. tokunbo

Lessons:

  • Whatever your hands find to do, doit with all your might and heart.
  • Opportunity comes wearing an overall, so dig into the work and enjoy the blessings of your new opportunity.
  • Always go the extra mile because it ends up giving you that extra notice that puts you ahead of your contemporaries.
  • Hard work pays
  • Be willing to work without getting paid sometimes…It is quite rewarding…Benefits of my award – A deep freezer and Cash money.
  • When your boss gives you a new assignment, not palatable…DO IT! *wink*

You can listen to the audio by clicking on the link below

 Ufiala

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

Women and Girls refugees; what they go through

Many women and girls who have gone through war situations find themselves in refugee camps as their male counterparts. REFUGEES

These camps are suppose to be a safe haven from the horrors of war but it opens a new door of  terror to women and girls. They have to contend with physical abuse, sexual assault and violence.

JAMAM, SOUTH SUDAN - JULY 15:  Sudanese refugees wait in line to board a truck heading to Batil refugee camp July 15, 2012 in Jamam camp, South Sudan. Up to 16,000 refugees are in the process of being  moved due to flooding in the camp as the rainy season continues. Jamam refugee camp is approximately 80k from the North Sudan border. There are currently three refugee camps in the Upper Nile area housing 107,000 refugees from the Engassana region.  South Sudan recently celebrated it's first independence anniversary. Over the past year repeated conflict with North Sudan, corruption scandals and economic difficulties have plagued the new country. Further problems caused by the shutdown of its oil production have led to a sharp decline in its currency and a rise in the price of food and fuel. South Sudan is one of the most underdeveloped countries in the world. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)
JAMAM, SOUTH SUDAN – JULY 15: Sudanese refugees wait in line to board a truck heading to Batil refugee camp July 15, 2012 in Jamam camp, South Sudan. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Refugee 3

Many horrible stories are untold. As we celebrate another world refugee day let us speak as one voice against every assault and violence against women in refugee camps.

Women and girls can be safer in refugee camps by segregating facility use between men and women. How  can refugee camps be made safer for all? Share your thoughts

Photo Credits: CNN (1), Sudan Tribune (2), Daily Mail (3)

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

What in the world is this? Sad story of Maria Abbasi

A girl should have the right to turn down a marriage proposal!!! I am really sad to read about the story of this 18year Old Pakistani school teacher set ablaze because she refused a marriage proposal?!!!

Maria Abbasi
CNN Photo – Maria Abbasi

Maria Abbasi was baby sitting her little sister when her attackers came and carried out this heinous crime.

Violence against women and girls has to STOP!!!

A Poem for Maria Abbasi

So sad that your life was cut short

How brave you were to say no to that proposal though fatal

Children at your school will miss you

Your family will miss you

The world  will miss you

Your attackers did not know that you could have been the next solution to their communities problem

Maria, your story though sad has renewed our energy to fighting every violence against women & girls

Adeiu Maria

Stop these senseless killings…A girl has a right to say no

Adebisi Adetunji (C)