By Isaac Aqua
In a bid to checkmate the escalating rate of sexual exploitation being suffered by girls and women in educational institutions in Nigeria, a research project meant to unveil the remote causes as well as remedial measures to curtail the menace is underway in Cross River State.
Programme Manager of Project Alert, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) behind the initiative, Nsini Udonta disclosed this in Calabar while declaring open a one-day training workshop to fine-tune modalities for the research.
The research is expected to focus on selected secondary schools and institutions of higher learning in Cross River State and is expected to be handled by renowned experts in the field.
According to Udonta, the workshop, facilitated by African Women Development Fund became imperative to provide an interactive session for researchers and partners to brainstorm and evolve an acceptable methodology for a hitch-free exercise.
She expressed optimism that the outcome will produce empirical data for evaluation and an effective panacea to tackle the issue of sexual and gender-based violence prevalent in secondary and higher institutions across the state.
Speaking, Mrs Ndodeye Bassey of Girl’s Power Initiative (GPI) applauded Project Alert for the bold initiative, stressing that the scientific approach would assist stakeholders with a reliable data bank for complimentary programmes intended to address the prevailing challenge.
Also speaking, Dr Glory Eteng of the University of Calabar (UNICAL) enjoined participants to ensure strict compliance with laid down procedures during field trips to usher in empirical findings.
The programme which is expected to run for three years in Cross River and Akwa Ibom States is spearheaded by Project Alert, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) set up in 1999 with a prime target of promoting and protecting the rights of girls and women.
Headed by Dr Josephine Effah-Chukwuma, the organisation is engaged in drawing the attention of critical stakeholders to the danger posed by the menace of sexual violence in society.
Project Alert is also a front runner in influencing government policies and programmes to ensure gender inclusiveness as well as advocacy actions against sexual and gender-based violence across Nigeria.
Meanwhile, Felicia Ihwo who spoke on behalf of the participants, applauded the facilitators behind the programme, noting that the outcome would go a long way in curtailing incidences.