Following the high rate of sexual violence in the country, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has advised the Federal Government and other civil rights groups working against gender-based violence to use religious leaders to fight the menace.
This, according to the CAN, is because the religious and traditional leaders command loyalty and respect from thousands of followers who could easily obey their instructions and act on issues of gender-based violence.
CAN President, Dr. Samson Ayokunle, gave the suggestion in Abuja at the launch of the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence where he stated that the menace had had immeasurable and devastating effects on the life of victims.
He was particularly concerned that most of the gender-based violence was recorded at homes from trusted close family members.
His words: “Home is not always a safe place to live, especially for adults and children living in situations of domestic and familial violence. Home is often the space where physical, psychological and sexual abuse occurs. This is because home can be a place where dynamics of power are distorted and subverted by those who abuse often without scrutiny from anyone outside the couple or the family unit.
“Children face particular protection risks, including that of being separated from their caregivers. Social norms put a heavy caregiving burden on women and girls in many countries and are likely to cause their physical and mental health to suffer and impede their access to education, livelihood sources and other critical support.
“The commitment of faith actors to human rights is not an arbitrary cultural or ideological preference, but rooted in religious convictions. There can be no justice where God-given human rights are violated or where duty bearers fail to discharge their responsibilities”.
The CAN boss advocated that all responses against gender-based violence should involve faith actors, adding that: “They should ensure coordination and meaningful partnerships between faith and secular actors. They are key in reaching communities both with essential information, providing service to vulnerable groups and promoting behaviour change and challenging harmful norms, stereotypes and stigma”.
Ayokunle advocated that there should be adoption of gender-just policies and funding of Coronavirus (COVID-19) response plans that will holistically address the pandemic, including the secondary impacts on education, health, economy and livelihoods.