The Nation

Group trains religious leaders, others on gender -based violence


Our Reporter

Women at Risk International Organisation (WARIF) in partnership with Aspire Coronation Trust (ACT) Foundation has commenced the third cycle of the WARIF Gatekeepers Project.

This project aims to eradicate gender-based violence (GBV) through the training of gatekeepers across Local Government Areas in Lagos.

These gatekeepers, who consist of Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) and Law Enforcement Agents, will now include Religious Leaders of all faiths from the community.

The project was launched in 2017 with the successful training of 1000 traditional birth attendants across 15 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Lagos State who served as first responders to cases of rape and sexual violence.

The second cycle the following year was an equal success with the inclusion of law enforcement agents as secondary gatekeepers; these officers were trained on the right protocols to address cases of sexual violence as well as the importance of sensitivity when addressing the affected survivors.

Cycle 3 of the Gatekeepers Project recognises the role and importance of religious leaders in rural communities across Nigeria.

It emphasised the large circle of influence these community leaders hold in their respective places of worship, in their communities.

With the inclusion of these leaders, an anticipated increase in the level of awareness is expected with a significantly higher number of cases of sexual violence being reported.

WARIF believes this goal will be readily achieved with the inclusion of these new trustworthy and respected tertiary Gatekeepers and will make an impact on a wider reach of men and women in the society at large.

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Sponsored by ACT Foundation, the project saw the fostering of good relationships between the TBAs and law enforcement agents in previous engagements, ensuring survivors received the assistance needed, and cases were reported in a timely fashion.

Speaking on the inclusion of religious leaders in this cycle, WARIF’S Founder, Dr. Kemi DaSilva-Ibru, stated: “Following two successful cycles of the gatekeepers community-based project, sponsored by ACT Foundation, community leaders such as the Traditional Birth Attendants and Law Enforcement Officers were engaged and trained on becoming first responders in cases of gender-based violence.

“This led to an increase in the awareness of this menace in their respective communities and a documented increase in the number of cases reported to the WARIF Centre.

“We anticipate the addition of religious leaders who are respected community mediators as our tertiary gatekeepers in this project will lead to an increase in awareness, a change in the prevailing mindset of the community, and a subsequent reduction in the number of cases of violence against women and girls reported.”

A total number of 600 gatekeepers will be trained in this cycle who will be equipped with the knowledge and tools needed to raise awareness, support survivors of rape and refer these cases immediately WARIF for treatment and to the Law Enforcement, for the apprehension of the perpetrator and prosecution.


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