By Chinenye Anuforo

The Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF) has successfully trained a new group of stakeholders as part of its Gatekeepers Project, a crucial initiative focused on tackling rape and sexual violence in rural communities across Ogun State, Nigeria.

This project, funded by the ACT Foundation, specifically targets the protection of young girls and women in four Local Government Areas (LGAs).

The project’s foundation lies in strategic engagement. Key stakeholders including representatives from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Alternative Medicine Board, Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital Sexual Assault Referral Centre, and coordinators of birth attendant groups in the LGAs were all consulted. These consultations ensured governmental and non-governmental support, while also identifying valuable local resources to achieve project goals.

A central aspect of the project involved training birth attendants to act as first responders for Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) within their communities. A total of 200 birth attendants (181 female and 19 male) across the designated LGAs received comprehensive training. This training equipped them with the skills to identify and document GBV cases, in addition to providing counseling services.

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The trained birth attendants actively reached out to their communities. They conducted weekly sensitization and awareness activities within their clinics, while also engaging social and religious gatherings. Through these efforts, a staggering 8,130 individuals (6,587 females and 1,543 males) were informed about GBV, significantly raising awareness within the targeted communities.

The project’s success extends beyond awareness. A total of 203 GBV cases were documented during implementation. Domestic violence (124 cases) was the most prevalent, followed by sexual assault (51 cases) and rape (28 cases). The trained birth attendants provided critical services, including counseling (87%), referrals to the Police (6%), other medical facilities (4%), and WARIF or Sexual Assault Referral Centres (2%).

The Gatekeepers program’s impact is not limited to the immediate project. The initiative has not only increased awareness among Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) regarding GBV signs and prevention, but it has also been integrated into apprenticeship programs for new TBAs. This ensures the project’s knowledge and practices are sustained and passed on to future generations within these communities.

WARIF remains unwavering in its mission to empower communities to combat rape and sexual violence. Through the Gatekeepers Project and similar initiatives, WARIF is actively working towards a safer environment for all, particularly women and girls.

 

 

 


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