AS part of activities to commemorate the 16 days of activism to end gender-based violence, the Lagos Chapter of the BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights Organisation on Thursday, December 7, 2023, organised an anti-gender-based walk at the Lagos State University (LASU) Main Campus, Ojo, Lagos.
The walk, which started at the LASU-Badagry Gate and ended at the LASU-Iba Gate, was led by the BAOBAB Lagos Coordinator, Dr Olawunmi Oni-Buraimoh, an Associate Professor in the Department of English Language in the University, was themed “Men! Arise!! Prevent Violence against Women!!!”
The peaceful demonstration featured young adults in the University and members of BAOBAB Lagos. The team carried placards showcasing catchy words that spoke against gender-based violence in society. Some inscriptions on the placards include Men! Arise!! Prevent Violence against Women!!!, I am a Man, I am taking a Stand Against Sexual Violence, Stop Gender-Based Violence, Sexual Harassment is no Joke! Stop Violence Against Women!!!, and Imagine a day without Sexual Assault!
They also chanted messages like “Greenlight is not consent!” “No is No!” “Stop Rape!” “Stop Sexual Harassment!” and so on.
While speaking with members of the press after the walk, the BAOBAB Lagos Coordinator, Dr Oni-Buraimoh, stated that the walk was to create awareness for students who might be going through any form of abuse that they can get help.
In her words: For emphasis, this walk is to educate and sensitise our men and boys to know that they have a responsibility to support this agenda because women’s rights are human rights.
“In essence, we are promoting Positive Masculinity. We don’t want violent and bullying men against women. We want positive men who can stand up for women, girls and even for themselves.
“By this campaign, we are not saying that the fight is for the women alone. What we are saying is shared responsibility, co-creation and constructions of ideas, co-responsibilities and co-decision making. Because we know that in the power dynamics statistics, the male gender is more than the female gender. Factually, in all spheres of life and especially in academics, you will see that there is an unequal power relation between female academics and male academics.
“So, if the power is shared into projecting positive values, it would be the best. We are not saying we want all the positions, but that this idea of gender-based violence, let us reject it together.
“We are not saying women are the only victims involved in Gender-based violence. We are simply saying violence against one woman is actually against all women. Ditto for the men. If a male is harassed, let’s talk about it together, the same for a woman or a girl child. Let’s collaborate to fight this scourge. We want a joint partnership with the men on this campaign.”
On her part, Kikelomo Ajilore, a representative of the Women and Girls Empowerment Foundation International (WOGEFI), said the importance of the campaign cannot be overemphasised while urging women and girls to speak up whenever they encounter sexual predators.
She added that society has victimised the female gender, which has led to their vulnerability against the brutal forces of some unscrupulous men.
“This is why our organisation is partnering with BAOBAB on this campaign. We are lending our voice to make the advocacy go viral,” she noted.
Meanwhile, some of the female participants spoke about some of their friends who have encountered different degrees of gender-based violence and the actions they have taken.
Odekunle Peace Oluwafeyikemi, a final year student of English at LASU stated that although she has not had a personal experience of sexual violence, people around her have.
She said: I have heard so many issues of sexual harassment and domestic violence. Unfortunately, many of the victims could not pursue the cause of justice because of the societal stigma that comes with the public knowledge of it.
“I can tell you that this violence impairs greatly on the mental health of the survivors. This society must rise. Let’s protect and save our women and girl-child against sexual and domestic violence.”
Mr Bamitola Olatunji, a member of the BAOBAB Lagos outreach, said it was time to begin to see gender-based violence beyond the single lens of women's accounts.
In his words: “Unfortunately, a lot of time, the story of gender-based violence is always told from the lens and perspective of the women alone. Unfortunately, that is not the truth. Therefore, it is not only important to support the women in advocating against it; it is important for the men to also come out and share their experiences.
“I think we should begin to think of broadening the conversation beyond who women are, what women are, and seeing them as the only victims.
“We need to go beyond making the men the villains of this story and the continuous demonisation of their persons because oftentimes, the story has many perspectives.”