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Sexual Violence, A Thorn In The Flesh Of All Females All Over The World

Busayo

YOU DARE NOT TAKE A STROLL IN A LONELY PLACE, WORKING IN YOUR OFFICE ALONE AT NIGHT OR READING IN A QUIET PLACE IN YOUR CAMPUS AND AS A MOTHER ENTRUST YOUR GIRL CHILD INTO THE CARE OF ANY MAN. This is the ordeal of women and girls all over the world and the reason why
Dr Toyin Mejiuni; a female activist and lecturer with two others felt the need to put in place an institutional organization that could better help victims of sexual violence. Women Against Rape, Sexual Harassment and Sexual Exploitation (WARSHE).

Undoubtedly one of the most admired, respected women of integrity in the university, Dr Toyin Mejiuni’s academic achievement,charming mien and the high level of trust people have in her and her partners contributed immensely to the success of WARSHE over the years. Confident and vivacious, Dr Toyin Mejiuni highlighted that:

“At WARSHE, our vision is to see many more Nigerian women and men give support to victims of sexual violence and abuse so that they can reach their full potentials as human beings in spite of the cruelty already metted out to them. Our mission is to contribute to efforts aimed at improving the social position of Nigerian women, and by so doing reduce considerably sexual abuse and violence against women and children in Nigeria".

Some of our activities are to:
Provide human, material and emotional support to victims of rape, sexual harassment and sexual exploitation,Assist victims to bring culprits to book,Educate girls and women on the subject of rape, sexual harassment and sexual exploitation and steps to take if any of these happen, Carry out researches that are directly related to the work of the organization.Helping victims to obtain medical and legal services. The organization provides counseling services and the much needed emotional support to victims.Providing technical support to educational institutions, investigating panels (on rape and sexual harassment) and persons working on seminars/research papers through consultations/discussions.

On her Driving Force:” It’s a family trait.”
Dr Toyin Mejiuni was quick to add that cheating was unacceptable in the home where she grew up. She was brought up by a father who would not condole cheating and a strong willed mother. “It was forbidden for the older ones to beat the younger ones.” She said. Fueled by passion and altruism, Dr Toyin Mejiuni insisted that the issue of sexual harassment has become a thorn in the flesh of females all over the world and must be addressed with all seriousness. This is what WARSHE is all about.

On How WARSHE Gets Reports of Cases:
Dr Toyion Mejiuni submitted emphatically that like in any other places all over the world, the incident of sexual violence in much more than the reportage. The situation is worse in our society because of the socio-cultural attitude that “there are some things you must not talk about in the public.” People think it is an “unnecessary exposure” of themselves and the fear of stigma is enough to shut them up. The situation is getting better now as a result of the awareness campaign on campuses and all over the nation that if no other thing, you can use your pain to help others. Even if you are not able to get justice, you can name and shame the rapist forever.

Do you mean to say you don’t get justice most of the time?
“Let me be frank with you. We only get justice in the ‘gown’ that is, on campus. Since we started in 1998, we had worked with three different vice-chancellors in the university, non of them ever collapsed under pressure. All the accused on campus always got the judgment they deserved.

In town, it is a different story entirely. At times, it may be the problem of police, after collecting bribes from the accused, will start interrogating the victims instead of the accused. However, we have received strong support of top ranked police officers at the state or national level. At times, doctors would not conduct thorough examinations on victims, some even embarassed them by sinster remarks.

Another challenge is how far a rape victim wants to go when she reports to WARSHE. Some would prefer to get just medical attention, Some would collapse under the pressure of people of high caliber begging on behalf of the accused. Some cases with enough proofs and evidences to prosecute, the victim will refuse to go to court. What we do in cases like this is to encourage our clients that even if we are not able to get justice, at least we would have succeeded in taking the ‘Dogs’ to court to face the public on charges of rape. We are able to ‘tear him down, shake him and somber him. During the court proceedings, we always organize people to go to the court to boo the rapist in public.

On Her Feeling Concerning Gender Equality
Dr Toyin Mejiuni had this to say:-“the issue of unequal relation of power is too much. It is very strong in Africa and that is why rapists often get away with the crime. Too many men are exploiting patriarchy and gerontocracy. In African setting, we train our children to respect elders but we would not put clauses or demarcations like when such elders want to violate you, disrespect them. Mothers should be teaching their children this.” She concluded.

In her own contribution, Prof. Sumbo Abiose, the Director Centre for Gender and Social Policy, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, and one of the trustees of WARSHE, when contacted on this interview had this to say: “ Dr Toyin Mejiuni is the best female activist around.” If this remark gives the impression that we had a swell time at the interview, it is because we really did.

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future, which is providing rigorous web 2.0 and new media training for 31 emerging women leaders. We are speaking out for social change from some of the most forgotten corners of the world. Meet Us.

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