Religious leaders remain key to ending sexual and gender-based violence – NGO

By Ruth Oketunde

The Abiodun Essiet Initiative for Girls (AIEG), a Non-Governmental Organization,
says religious leaders play a key role in ending sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in the country.

The initiative’s executive director, Ms. Abiodun Essiet, said so on Thursday during a day of “raising awareness at the town hall
on sexual and gender-based violence in holy places” in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of the event is; “The Role of Religious Institutions in Addressing Sexual and Gender-Based Violence.”

Essiet said the outreach aims to break the culture of silence among survivors of sexual and gender-based violence and ensure that perpetrators
have been reported to the correct institutions.

She added that “we are concerned about the high number of sexual and gender-based violence occurring in holy places that are meant to be sacred.

“Many people don’t know that certain behaviors are classified as SGBV; these acts include wife slapping, abandonment,
leave your children or send the wives away.

“So we’re doing this awareness to address the structural issues that we have in society regarding SGBV and so many others.
people get away with things that shouldn’t be.

“Some people are afraid to tell their religious leaders what happened to them or their children so that their partners
will not be victimized, resulting in these cases being under-reported.

“Such an attitude encourages perpetrators to return to the community and live in peace as if nothing had happened; but we advocate
for victims to speak out and end the culture of silence.

Eze Alphunsus, a cleric from the Deeper Life Bible Church, called on religious leaders to be good role models for their congregants.
living exemplary lives.

He added that religious institutions should endeavor to hold seminars on SGBV issues periodically.
to discourage people from engaging in such acts.

For his part, Sheikh Ibrahim Yusuf, the Sarkin Yakin Addini and Chairman of the Interfaith Council of Bwari Regional Council, urged
religious leaders to change their attitude towards serving God by ensuring that they practice what they preach.

He added that religious leaders should not focus on praising their followers but ensuring that they re-educate their
members on the negative impacts of SGBV.

A participant, Hajiya Zainab Nwogwu, who thanked the NGO for raising awareness, called on parents to raise pious children
who would grow up to be responsible men and women. (NAN)(
Edited by Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu

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