RuWCED, in an advocacy, training and brainstorming meeting with women/youths network, and community leaders, has presented the Knowledge, Attitude and Practice (KAP) research findings for an ongoing UNTF Spotlight funded project, based on their research in Ngoketunjia division and developed sensitisation messages with contributions from all the participants.
During this session on May 29 -30, 2021, in Ndop, the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for RuWCED, Ngwa Elvis in his presentation mentioned that intimate partner violence, forced and early marriage, child exploitation, denial of family planning, rape, violence from traditional practices such as breast ironing were mostly common in the communities. He added that in every 2 women they interviewed, one had undergone widowhood practices. Following this presentation, RuWCED Ndop Coordinator, Wirsiy Vera coordinated participants to come out with sensitisation messages. Some of the messages adopted include; “Women’s rights should be respected”, “Go for family planning with your husband”, “Dialogue remains the best solution to family marital issues”, “Traditional leaders be watchful. Female circumcision and Breast ironing is dangerous”, “Provide equal educational opportunity for every child”, “Household chores is the responsibility of everyone and not only for girls and women”, “Girls should not be used to pay debts”, “We should not send our children to strangers without due procedure”, “Beware of the consequences of early/forced marriage”, “Rape is a crime and perpetrators should be punished”, “Girls, do not shy from menstruation. It is a natural sign of maturity”, “Cultural norms should not affect knowledge of menstruation”, “Constructive communication can reduce intimate partner violence”, etc.
Reproductive Health Expert, Ndah Grace and one of the Projects Coordinators, Samuel Leboh later reiterated the root causes of GBV and its effects on the SRHR of women. They enumerated some of the effects; obstetric fistula as an effect of early marriage, death as an effect of sexual and physical violence, maternal mortality as an effect of emotional and psychological violence, infant mortality, miscarriages, unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortion, STIs, mental disorder, injuries, eating disorder, sleeping disorder, sexual disorder, etc.
Facilitators also talked about mitigation of the various forms of violence, listened to survivors of rape and find out what went wrong and what is going on; teach both boys and girls what is right and tell them to stay away from what is wrong; respond to activities that can change the community and be advocates; let everyone know that informed consent is mandatory and so opinions and beliefs should not be forced on anyone; to know signs of abuse, show solidarity and empathize with survivors; stand against rape culture and follow proper procedure medically, psychologically and legally; celebrate the vulnerable in the society especially during international events to celebrate them; have data and information about the community and be ready to add or contribute to the knowledge; don’t compromise with a rape case, etc.
To add to the above, Abonge Laura, Project Assistant for RuWCED, equally talked on the importance of educating a girl child. At the end of the training participants expressed satisfaction with the messages developed and things gained from the interactive session. Participants told facilitators that they will take the messages back to their various communities.