In a bid to eradicate attitudes of violence in the society, Neferok Development Initiative NDI, a Non-Governmental Organization with the slogan of catch them young has charged students to speak out against gender based violence so as to get justice, freedom and rehabilitation.
Marking 2019 speak campaign with the theme “my voice, my justice, my freedom” #togetherwespeak, 35 students and teachers were drawn from Otu-Jeremi Secondary School and Otor-Udu Secondary School in Ughelli South, Udu Local Government Area of Delta State.
Addressing news men, the organizer Okotie Ayo Nefertiti, stated that when victims of gender based violence speak out the offenders are apprehended, tried and sent to jail to serve as deterrent to others. According to her “Speaking out has helped victims in the past in a lot of ways because when people speak out, we are able to render help but when they choose to keep quiet because of stigma, intimidation, the fear of idle threats of spells and death from the offenders they end up carrying the weight of the crime most or all of their lifetime.
“In the past we have held speak campaigns in communities with adults as participants and the success recorded were tremendous but we decided to reach out to the young ones to educate and equip them as we noticed that gender based violence was on the increase in schools and amongst teenagers.”
Continuing Nefertiti, a teacher with over 20 years’ experience said that children ought to be protected by all means from all forms of abuse. “And we thank the Delta State Governor, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa for signing the Child Right Act into law. This has helped a lot because many school age children who were involved in street hawking have returned back to school.”
She advised the students to be courageous and report to their parents, teachers, pastors or any reasonable adult when being abused, develop self-control, avoid indecent dressing, avoid compromising situations, to be very vigilant and conscious of their environment, avoid keeping late nights and walking alone in the dark.
Speaking on behalf of the teachers, Ughwumakpor Uyoyou, Gwede Ufuoma and Doghor Lawrence described the programme as highly educative and well thought out. “What is happening in society today is very alarming. Gender based violence cut across all strata of society even the church is not left out. Students are being raped on a daily basis but if speak out programmes and sex education are introduced into school curriculum, and taught from nursery to tertiary institution, it will reduce gender based violence.”
On their part, Theophilus Ango and Dafiaghor Ogheneyore, students of Otu-Jeremi and Otor-Udu Secondary School appealed to Neferok Development Initiative to take the programme from school to school including private schools and increase the number of participants as majority are not aware of their rights.
The participants who were divided into seven groups came up with five action plans each. These include to be ambassador of speak out, share information received with friends and neighbours, challenge the culture that encourages sexual harassment in their schools, homes and community, shun indecent dressing, advocate that proper sex education should be given from age five, advocate that punishment for sex offenders should be more stringent and to encourage those who are emotionally depressed due to gender based violence.
Some of the students include Edoja Favour Endurance; Difference Vivian, Pender Joy, Kpawhare Favour, Okpako Eloghene, Udumebraye Oghenekweke, Owhorode Meru, Wheleke Hosanna, Soja Blessing, Ogedegbe Sarah, Ogeaje Faith and Salomi Joy