By Nkama Chioma
A Non- governmental organization (NGO) based in Oguta known as Communal Care Centre on the 7th of September held a one day stakeholders town hall meeting at Oguta Civic Centre to address socio-cultural norms and practices fuelling violence against women and girls under SLOC-VAWG project funded by Action Aid Nigeria with support from the Ford Foundation.
The meeting was held solely to address some abnormalities that are being practiced in the community, especially harmful widowhood practices and sexual violation such as rape and defilement of minors.
They used the opportunity to enlighten the people on how to deal with the menace called violence and intimidation meted out against women and girls.
The Convener and the Executive Director of Communal Care Centre, Mrs. Colette Bennett in her welcome address hinted the people that CCC came to existence in 2004 with the sole aim of helping widows, orphans, destitute and the down trodden.
She decried the decaying level of morals and values in the society as well as questioned why women are always in the centre of it all.
Speaking further on the issues, one of the facilitators, Mrs. Ukachi Uka Imo state Coordinator of National Human Rights Commission stated that the essence of the meeting was to create awareness through informing the people on how to promote and protect their individual human rights.
Continuing, she stated that some norms that are currently being practiced are against human rights and as such, advocating that persons that are into such, should without further delays desist henceforth or else face the wrath of the law .
Giving instances of such harmful norms, she made mention of widowhood practices, rape, defilement, Female Genital Mutilation, denial of rights of inheritance, physical and emotional violence, amongst others.
Ukachi stated that she’s not unaware that the male gender are also being molested but rather, more prevalent with women.
She reiterated that the role of women in the Society cannot be over emphasized and as such, they need every necessary support for them to do exploit.
Ukachi informed the people that lots of Organizations are interested in women related issues like Federation of Women lawyers (FIDA), Women Advancement and Protection Agency , Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Social welfare departments, amongst others.
Mrs. Marjorie Ezihe a woman activist and the Chairperson of Imo State Committee on ending violence against women and girls, who spoke at the event condemned the segregation and illegal norms meted out on people especially Women.
She emphatically stressed that obnoxious practices such as harmful widowhood practices should be stopped.
She advised, that people should learn not to allow their condition to make them vulnerable rather ensure they use their condition to change policies that does not argue well in the society.
In addition, she hinted that the elders of the Community and stakeholders should allow modernization to take over their sense of reasoning as they would no longer tolerate further violence against women and girls as it is an infringement on their rights.
Marjorie maintained that the female folks should be encouraged to have a voice which can only be made possible through adequate enlightenment program where they would be taught to speak up in areas of molestation meted out on them especially with the introduction of VAPP bill.
Present at the meeting include representatives from the Igwe’s Cabinet, heads of villages, Gender Officer Oguta police station, woman Inspector Chigoziem Okoronkwo, Mrs. Chinyere Opara staff of social welfare Unit Oguta LGA, Staff of Health unit Oguta LGA, security agencies, Mrs Ukachi Uka State Coordinator National Human Rights Commission, Mrs Marjorie Ezihe, staff of Communal Care Centre, amongst others.