Hundreds of people on Sunday converged on Ojo Street in Obalende, a popular neighbourhood on Lagos Island to witness a stage play aimed at raising awareness about gender based violence and how communities respond to issues of violence against women and girls.
The play entitled Omobolanle, was organised by Center for Gender Economics, a grantee of Urgent Action Fund-Africa, in partnership with Etiosa Youth Development Initiative, tells the story of a girl who along with her family moved from northern Nigeria to Obalende, a suburb in Lagos Island only to be sexually assaulted on her way from the market, where she went to help her mother bring back her wares. With the play, the organisers hope to raise awareness about sexual and gender based violence and its negative impact on the society.
“’The girl you rape could be the first female senator from this community,’’ one of the actors told the audience during the stage play. “’That girl could be the one who will bring bring the best of schools and world class health facility to Obalende. Let’s not spoil their future and ours with rape.’’
Obalende, known for its vibrant night life and barbecue popularly called suya, is also home to a large community of people from the north. Some of them fled the Boko haram insurgency in northeast Nigeria, like the girl portrayed in the play, to reside there.
Rape and other forms of violence against women in suburbs like Obalende is common and victims are often children or young girls. With the program, the organisers sensitized the community to play a role in protecting women and girls from all forms of gender based violence.
“One of the challenges we face is that, the families of the victim often times do not want to go to court when we try to seek a legal redress,” Uchenna Idoko, Executive Director of Center for Gender Economics, told AfricanQuarters. “They say they want their daughter to just get married because of that court cases get stalled always.’’
According to recently released UNFPA report nearly 3 in 10 Nigerian women have experienced one form of physical violence by age 15.
The play was the highlight of the awareness program of Centre for Gender Economics commemorating the 16 days of activism against gender violence–a global campaign that aims to challenge violence against women and girls. The event also featured dance and music.