By Angela Nkwocha
The erstwhile governor of Imo state, Honestly. Emeka Ihedioha, has applauded the Female Artists Association of Nigeria (FEAAN) for their vigorous campaign and art exhibition aimed at enlightening the public on the war against rape, as well as using art as a healing therapy.
Speaking recently in Abuja during FEAAN’s Art Exhibition and campaign tagged “Enough is Enough to Sexual and Gender Based Violence”, Ihedioha while giving assurance of his maximum support, tasked FEANN not to relent in their fight against rape.
“I want to say to the Association of Female Artists this is wonderful I am happy I have the privilege to be here. continue in this fight as hard as you can I will join you in propagating the fight against rape”, he said.
On her part the Director General National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, (NAPTIP), Julie Okah-Donlie decried the high rate of sexual and gender based violence especially amongst relatives and minors stressing that the Agency is not leaving any stone unturned in bringing perpetrators to book.
“I arrest perpetrators everyday I prosecute all of the time. I rescue victims of sexual and gender based violence. We have cases of fathers raping their daughters, brothers raping their sisters, babies are not left. It has traumatised my officers and I so much so that we have to have counsellors. You can’t help but cry when you see these little babies defiled”.
She called on parents to be more vigilant adding that it is a fight for everyone. While advising against the use of under age house helps she called on the public to speak out and take responsibility “If you see something say something, do something”.
The Executive Secretary Nigerian Human Rights Commission, Tony Ojukwu Esq in his remarks said the timing for the exhibition is apt as the country is witnessing a spike in cases of rape and other forms of Sexual Gender Based Violence, (SGBV) according to him analysis of human rights violations by the Commission during COVID-19 lockdown enforcement showed a rising increase in numbers of SGBV cases nationwide.
While giving the assurance that the Commission is doing everything within its mandate to bring the scourge to bear he expressed optimism that this exhibition will not only address the issue of SGBV as a present challenge but will continue with the conversation until there is a change in the mindset and behavior of people especially the perpetrators towards rape and other forms of SGBV.
The President of FEAAN, Mrs Chinze Ojobo said the campaign is part of efforts to address the issue of rape as well as see how the survivors can be treated and also a medium to appeal for government’s collaboration in creating centres that will serve as succour and therapy to victims.
“This exhibition is part of efforts to appeal to the government so that the female artists can have a centre were we can train and teach the girls how to make tie and dye, how to sow and rebuild their self confidence. There is report that between January and May there have been cases 717 cases of rape reported cases God knows of the numbers that are not reported. It is a way to bring to public notice that we can use art therapy to heal victims of rape incidents”
The immediate past President of FEAAN, Mrs Ngozi Akonde said the exhibition is their way of empathizing with the girl child stressing that it is tailored towards using art to help the girl child recover herself, as well as a therapy to help them pick up their lives.