Nigerian students have put their voices out against, and recommended ways to strengthen mitigation, reporting and quick intervention mechanisms, against Sexual and Gender based Violence in tertiary institutions across the county.
The students who made recommendations to a Standard Operating Procedure to eliminate SGBV within the university community, presented their recommendations during a one-day event organized by the Center for Human Rights, UNILAG and supported by Action Aid Women Voice leadership project supported by Global Affairs Canada.
The event which was organized to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Day, was themed ‘The Global Yearning for Freedom: Our History, Our Present, and Our Future’.
Speaking at the event, The Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Prof. Ayodele Atsenuwa, condemned violence against students in higher institutions. She reiterated the commitment of UNILAG to protect the rights of girls in the school.
The Representative of Action Aid, Anawiyat Yakubu called on the Nigerian government and relevant stakeholders to respect human rights as protected by the constitution; and prioritize the Standard Operating Procedure after its collation. According to Yakubu, the SOP will further protect the right of female students and prosecute SGBV offenders.
In a panel session, Mr Lanre Arogundade, Founding Director of the International Press Center; and Prof Abigail Ogwezzy- Ndisika elucidated the need for students to understand and contribute to the National Gender Policy by adequately submitting their contributions to the Standard Operating Procedure.
Mr Arogundade described the gap between the policy and its implementation and asked that the Nigerian media pay more attention to destigmatizing social misconceptions about gender roles, fueling SGBV.
While commending the University for its positive outlook to addressing SGBV cases, Prof Ogwezzy- Ndisika asked for more awareness about reporting outlets that can protect the voices of victims of SGBV.
The contributions of the students to the Standard Operating Procedure for handling Sexual and Gender based Violence, will be collated and presented to the Attorney General of the Federation in a bid to systemize the prevention, reporting mechanisms and secure justice for victims of SGBV within tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
According to the President of the Human Rights Clinic, Damilola Olaluwoye, no one should tolerate sexually related Gender Based violence. He also stated that students’ submissions to the SOP is an opportunity to contribute to policy making.