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WARIF unvils new initiative against rape, educates boys on sexual violence

To ensure that all young girls and women live in a society free of rape and sexual violence globally, a non-profit organisation, Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF) has taken its awareness campaign on rape to boys in secondary schools in Lagos through a new initiative called WARIF Boys Conversation Café.

This initiative is designed to educate young boys between the ages of 12-16, on the prevalence of sexual violence in Nigeria, to change perception and behavioural pattern that exist amongst these group of boys on violence against women.

WARIF was established to prevent and intervene on the prevalence of sexual violence/rape in Nigeria and Africa.

Announcing results of the first survey conducted by the new initiative at a press briefing in Lagos recently, Founder of WARIF, Dr. DaSilva- Ibru, said the WARIF Boys Conversation Café took informal dialogue sessions with cohort groups of secondary school boys, where vetted male volunteers were recruited from different organisations to serve as mentors /role models at these café sessions.

DaSilva- Ibru revealed that at the end of the first session with students of Surulere Senior Secondary School, the WARIFBoys Conversation Café, recorded an outstanding outcome with 98 per cent of the beneficiaries strongly agreeing to take a stand in any case of sexual abuse rather than just be bystanders.

The survey showed that 85 per cent of the boys strongly agreed that consent of a girl to have sex is important and should be respected.

According to her, further results of the project also revealed that the use of banned drugs like Tramadol and Codeine dropped by a whopping 66 per cent.

DaSilva- Ibru while speaking about the initiative said: “On the issue of gender-based violence in Nigeria, there are no existing curriculums in schools that directly address these topics for boys.

A lot of attention is given to women and girls to protect themselves against sexual abuse as opposed to teaching boys and men not to become perpetrators of sexual violence.

With the introduction of this initiative, we intend to change the existing attitudes and behaviour of young boys on the topic of rape and sexual violence. Through mentoring and education, we can change the narrative of these young men who will then grow up to become productive members of their communities”

She further noted: “The goal for us at WARIF is to reduce sexual based violence related issues and it is important to involve the boys in this process.

Ultimately, we want a society where better boys are raised and become men who understand that sexual violence is an issue that we must all fight against.”

According to her, WARIF is also encouraging a call to action for everyone to raise their voices against rape and sexual violence of young girls and women in Nigeria and Africa.

She urged parents to ensure that they teach their sons about sexual behaviour, and the importance of controlling sexual impulses.

To take the awareness further, Dasilva-Ibru said they are partnering with the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team ( DSRVT) to reach all secondary schools in the six school districts of the state before the end of the year .

Stressing that with appropriate funding, they would be able to take it out of Lagos and extend the campaign across Nigeria .

DaSilva- Ibru pointed out that WARIF has also introduced several initiatives such as the WARIF Centre, WARIF Educational School program, WARIF Know your community, WARIF Gatekeepers initiative and the WARIF through the Arts initiative all aimed at raising more awareness on rape and sexual violence.

Commenting on the Boys’ Conversation Café, Mrs. Lola Vivour Adeniyi, Coordinator of DSVRT, said “At DSVRT we believe strongly in positive masculinity. We found that unconsciously, we put a lot of awareness on girls and how we can protect them, teaching them how to be safe, and how they can protect themselves from sexual abuse.

But we usually leave the boys behind, which should not be the case, as statistics have shown that it is mostly boys who grow to be perpetrators of abuse, and they also get sexually abused too.”

“So, we are excited about the WARIF Boys’ Conversation Café, and we will be partnering with WARIF to cascade these café conversations across the 6 education districts in Lagos. ”she added.

Also speaking, Vice Principal, Surulere Senior Secondary School, Mrs. Oluwafunmilayo Adekoya, said the boys that were trained by WARIF were mandated to train other boys in the school, adding that training had starting yielding positive result.

The WARIF Boys Conversation Café is sponsored by Diamond Bank PLC

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