Gender violence is an ever-present problem that the world grapples with. It is certainly an issue that Nigeria faces. You hear of cases of sexual assault and rape from a young toddler up to the age of an elderly woman.
There are several factors that will go along to solving the problem of gender violence. The first is there needs to be justice for victims. There needs to be strict consequences and imprisonment for those who violate the body of another. This will instil more fear in the eyes of perpetrators.
There also needs to be more emphasis on sex education and the implications of gender violence taught in schools to create more awareness.
In addition, it is critical that we bring in more boys and young men into the discussion of gender violence. It is critical that we not only focus on the development and empowerment of the girl but that of the boy too. The boy and man in society need to be empowered to do and be better.
Ojobo Agbo is one of those individuals who are passionate about the development of the boy-child and man in society. He founded The Ideal Man Initiative as a platform to support and empower young boys and men to be better.
Here is what he has to say about the ever-present problem of rape culture in Nigeria.
What was the premise for the Ideal Man Initiative?
Considering how issues affecting boys and men have been slowly relegated or neglected by the society for years, it was important for us to create an initiative that creates awareness about issues affecting boys and men, but at the same time create platforms and projects for mentoring boys to become better men.
How can more men take a stand against gender violence?
By holding their fellow boys and men to higher standards.
By creating platforms and projects that focus on raising boys and their men to become better men.
By building emotional intelligence and empathy for others.
Men should also join in advocating and seeking justice when due. It is not okay to keep quiet and or ‘mind your business’ even when the issue does not concern you or your loved one.
Men can take a stand by reporting any suspected case of gender violence regardless of the victim or perpetrators gender.
It is important that we begin to teach our boys how to respond to and relate to the opposite gender.
How do you feel women can include men in advocacy efforts to end rape and sexual assault?
It is very important that in a bid to advocate against rape and sexual assault, women do not come out as against men. As this will cause more men who feel their gender is being attacked to back out or remain silent.
Partner with organizations that are centred on men and boys advocacy. The fight is against rape and sexual assault and not against men.
Design projects and programs that are focused on boy child development.
What could be some misconceptions surrounding men’s role in gender violence?
That men are always the perpetrators and never the victims.
Even if boys and men are victims, they should never speak out.
All men are out there to abuse women and girls.
Since men are not predominantly the victims, they won’t play a vital role in advocacy against gender violence.
What measures do you believe Nigeria needs to take in order to effectively handle the constant cases of rape and assault?
Rape and sexual assault are symptoms of something deeper.
Understand that victims and perpetrators could be of any gender.
Develop and implement laws for perpetrators to be punished regardless of their gender, status or religion.
Create systems for adequate sex education and accountability for children and young adults within the family, schools and communities.
Provide adequate legal, social and mental support systems for victims.
To learn more and support the development and empowerment of the boy and main in society, follow the Ideal Man Initiative.