Members of Spotlight Initiative Community Structures in Calabar Municipal and Odukpani local government areas have been trained on the best approaches towards ending violence against children, violence against women and girls and as well as gender based violence in their various communities.
The EU-UN Spotlight Initiative project which is currently implemented by the Cross River State Ministry of Justice with support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), aims to address cases of sexual and gender based violence in some selected local government areas in Cross River.
According to Asari Nakanda, Public Relations Officer, Child Protection Network, Cross River State and facilitator of the training, “This is an EU-UN Spotlight Initiative project that is implemented by the Ministry of Justice, Cross River State and supported by UNICEF.”
Nakanda who spoke at the end of the training said “This activity is actually to train community based structures on child protection. The aim of the training is to sensitize them on child abuse, sexual and gender based violence and on child protection. It’s also to sensitize them on the various types of gender based violence, the causes and effects, and what is expected of communities in order to address this issue.
“Another objective is to brew the commitment of the community members that are present at the training to find ways of addressing the issue of sexual and gender based violence, child abuse in their various communities.”
Speaking further, she explained that “Participants were drawn from 8 communities in Calabar Municipal local government and in Odukpani local government they were drawn from 12 communities. The participants were representatives of natural groups such as age-grade, traditional rulers council, youth organizations, women organizations. We also had representatives from religious organizations, health organizations as well as some other social groups like the okada riders etc.
“In the 2-day training which held in the Akim Qua Town for Calabar Municipal, and in Odukpani, the local government secretariat, participants were trained on child abuse, SGBV – their various types and presentations, as well as their causes and effects on the individual, the household and the community at large. We had different facilitated discussions, questions and answers, role play, group activities. Participants used all these strategies to identify what and what were bothering their community specifically, and then they also identified through the help of facilitators who guided them in identifying ways of addressing these issues in their communities.”
On the impact of the training, the lead facilitator said “By the end of the training participants’ initiatives or ways of thinking, especially surrounding child abuse were changed. Some concepts were changed such as using corporal punishment for discipline at homes and in schools; justifying rape with dressing; the concept of unequal power balance in communities which fuels most of the gender based violence cases in their communities.
“Participants were grouped in their various communities where they identified child abuse issue, sexual and gender based violence issue prevalent in their communities, while also identifying what and what activities as child protection community based structures in their communities; what activities they could actually take to address those issues identified.
“With that action plan, community based structures in both local government areas committed to addressing issues of child abuse and gender based violence in the communities.”