1Billion Rising, the Nigerian associate of Irise, an internationally recognized Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) devoted to fighting institutional slavery and Exploitation of the girl-child and women on the 18th of February took its sensitization campaign to Ajegunle Roundabout in Ajeromi/Ifelodun Local Government where the group talked to market women, children and general public. CYRIACUS NNAJI reports.
Ajegunle is unarguably a city known for its good, bad and ugly definitions and brandings due to crimes such as rape, area boyism, hawking, girl-child molestation, child abuse, environmental dirtiness, school dropout syndrome, teenage pregnancy, parents sexually assaulting and harassing their children, suicide, among other crime. It is also prominently known for a place where illiteracy scores high marks due to poverty, unbridled unplanned family leading to population explosion n the area.
During the campaign the group called on all Nigerians to Rise against all form as of violence against women and girls, as it observed an intensified rising trend of killing Rape, Displacement in crisis area in Nigeria, police brutality, men raping women and children with impunity, among others.
The campaign which the group is taking to different parts of Nigeria commenced February 14, 17,18, 20, 21 and come to a successful end on March 8, 2020.
Omodele Ibitoye, Coordinator, I billion Rising, Executive Director, Irise, an initiative spoke on reason for the campaign in Ajegunle. “Year 2020 Rising, we are raising the vibration, this is the fifth year we are doing it in Lagos, Nigeria, we have been holding indoor workshops, symposia, organizing campaigns, and now we decided to bring this campaign to a popular ghetto known as Ajegunle in Lagos State. It is the most popular ghetto in Nigeria. This place has produced a lot of prominent people, but still has lots of stories of infamy and stigma. So it is not all about going to the halls and talking but talking to the people who really need to listen to us: Market women, school children, bike riders, men going and coming back from work, the community people.”
She spoke further on the choice of method to be able to pass their message to the people, “We thought about talking to the community people, like a street campaign, where we would pass our message to the people through dance, drama and music, and it has been striking, outstanding, it is beautiful.”
Ibitoye spoke on the reason for choice of Ajegunle as venue for the sensitization, saying it was her way of giving back to the community to raised her. “Ajegunle is a beautiful community, it has produced a lot of prominent people like I said, Ajegunle is like a de facto Lagos in Lagos; it is difficult to walk around Lagos and not finding somebody from Ajegunle. This community has giving so much, but people find it difficult to come and give back, we don’t have this culture of giving back, this is my way of giving back to the society, to the community.”
She then spoke on what can be done to stop rape, slavery and other crimes in Nigeria and Ajegunle particularly, “Rape could be stopped through educating the society, by educating people, by letting people know that humans are humans, we should think about humanity first, before thinking of religion, culture and other needs. Rape dehumanizes, it destroys, so for us to stop rape, is for us to be educated, for us to understand that we are humans and we have to act like humans and not animals.”
On her vision for the organization in the next five years, she said “In the next five years we must have educated the whole of Nigeria, and we are going international, 1billion Rising is an international Organisation, it is taking this campaign to the 36 states of the country and more, I am excited, I am delighted.”
Maryjane one of the coordinators of 1 billion Rising speaking on the successes of the NGO, said “The success story is numerous, you know when people call and say 1billion Rising, I thank you people, I encountered domestic Violence, I know exactly where to go, and I got my sucour, you know, that encourages us. We are also rising to ensure women have their body autonomy, their reproductive rights, with the campaign also, people no longer keep quiet, they call and say, my neighbor’s child was raped and all that, people are beginning to be aware, information they say is power.”
Maryjane further disclosed that Nigerian Government has not supported the group, adding “This is a good cause, lets pursue it, the government, everybody should come out together, it is a collective responsibility. We alone cannot do it, so we are pleading with government, please support this cause, even if not financially they can support giving us other things, like asking us to come to do our campaign and all of that.
On the group’s mission to Abuja she said, “Expectation is very very high, this time around we are taking the campaign to the IDP Camp, we want to let those women there know that we care for them, After the Boko Haram menace chased them out of their homes, they are now in the camp in Abuja, so we are going there too. We know they are passing through so many things there.”