Last week Saturday, Wife of His Highness, the Emir of Kano State, Hajiya Maryam Lamido Sanusi in collaboration with the Africa Centre of Excellence for Population Health and Policy (ACEPHAP) and the Centre for Gender Studies, Bayero University Kano held a one-day seminar titled; Domestic Violence in Northern Nigeria; Finding A Lasting Solution to create awareness on one of the most pressing issues in Northern Nigeria. Since then, a group of participants and organisers of the seminar under the aegis of ‘Yashafeni’ have sustained the discussion on twitter, DPH News in Kano sat with one of the conveners, Saadatu Abdullahi Esq, to discuss the initiative.
First of all, I was by a daughter to her royal highness to help her highness with our experience in the advocacy field to help her highness in organising the program, because Domestic Violence is becoming an emerging large threat that needs serious attention, especially educating the masses on the effects and implications of Gender Based Violence, so after the event, we decided to take the message across to the social media and educate people on what we learnt, the Saturday program was a success, it brought together professionals from all fields, Prof Hadiza Galadanci; Health, Prof Aisha Dawakin Tofa; Centre for Gender Studies BUK, Justice Maryam Sabo; Kano State Judiciary, Hajiya Halima Shittu; An Islamic Cleric and a representative from the Kano State Hisbah Board.
Well, the issue is more prevalent with women, women are regarded as the inferior gender, but if you look closely, you will notice that not only the females suffer from abuse, and this is why it is called Gender Based Violence, but our focus for now is the female gender and with time the scope shall be widened to accommodate both genders.
Talking about Domestic Violence, it is not just a regional issue, it has reached a very alarming rate, in my little experience as a Law Practitioner, I have treated not less than 10 Gender Based Violence related cases, which is huge, and these are only reported cases. The major problem in Nigeria is lack of statistics, the statistics we have now do not do justice to the reality, this is the point made by her lordship Maryam Sabo, organisations need to make research, especially in rural areas, because many cases happen there and are not reported because of some cultural barriers.
The first statement Her Highness made at the event was change, she emphasized on the change in the approach to Gender Based Violence by doing away with some cultures that the reporting of Gender Based Violence cases as taboo, so if someone in her position, as wife to one of the strongest traditional rulers in the country will propose such, and step into the fold to echo the message, then it very much signifies change. This is why we came up with the name ‘Yashafeni’, in order to signify that everyone is involved, just because such violence has never affected you personally doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t lend your voice to the cause.
Well, our initiative is new and our main target is education and awareness, some people (even in the urban setting) don’t know how to deal with abuse, a girl may be abused, and she thinks that the best approach is to tell strangers on the social media, but the social media is inundated with gossip mongers who are just after the story and not justice. So we want to educate people about the Islamic perspective, provide people with the right channel to follow in reporting the issue and it is why we have the wrapper as our identity, the wrapper signifies help, so if we are able to do that and get the audience, then we get the message across to different places.
What we plan is to after raising this awareness, we would submit the itinerary of the initiative to Her Highness to brush up, and it is from there that we would collaborate with those in power to have stricter laws against Gender Based Violence. At the event, the Hisbah OC challenged her Lordship Maryam Sabo to act and enforce stricter laws because many people feel that they can do what they want and get away with it because of the absence of strong enforcement.
First, I previously through another NGO fought and raised a voice against violence against males, especially those that were stabbed by their wives recently, refusing to tackle that will only lead to another menace, so we would work with the relevant agencies to see that this trend is stopped.
The Event held last week had a very high attendance of NGOs and we close to start on the social media because the message needs to be sent across and victims need to know the proper channels they should register their grievances to. And we are dealing with a very complicated society where a husband will be assaulting his wife and if you tackle him, he will reply that she is wife that and you should get out of his house. And this is my way of going back to the society, Arewa always trends for the wrong reason, you see this initiative will not trend but a story that is controversial will trend for days, so this is our problem and we have to embrace it, we have to help ourselves, and if we can come together collectively, and this is why it is called ‘Yashafeni’, the message has to have a local tone.
Yashafeni, this is just the beginning, and it is not just going to be against domestic violence but every type of menace, I see us helping the Government in solving all these cases by adopting very strict laws and enforcement.