Speaking out: Joining voices to end gender-based violence

=By Funmi Falobi=

Gender based violence remains a growing problem in Nigeria and across Africa.

See short Video Campaign: Speaking out: Joining voices to end gender-based violence

Do you know that in every five minute around the world, a woman or a girl dies from violence?

In Africa, women are raped, sexually harassed at work or in school while girls get raped and given out in early marriage.

According to a UN report, 60% of Ethiopian women were subjected to sexual violence while it is estimated that over 40% of South African women will be raped in their lifetime and only one in four rapes are reported.

It is expected that all hands must be on deck to break the culture of silence and end violence against women and girls.

#EndViolenceAgainstWomen&Girls.

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UN, US call for end to violence against women, girls

=By Funmi Falobi=

United Nations, UN and United States of America, USA, have called for concerted action to end violence against women and girls around the globe.

The call came as the world commemorates this year’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The 16 days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign to challenge violence against women and girls. It takes place annually from November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to December 10, Human Rights Day.

Statement by the Heads of UN agencies, UNDP, UNICEF, UN Women and UNFPA, called for solidarity with survivors and survivor advocates and women’s human rights defenders who are working to prevent and end violence against women and girls.

Secretary-General’s UNiTE Campaign said, “ Our duty is not only to stand in solidarity with them but also to intensify our efforts to find solutions and measures to stop this preventable global scourge with a detrimental impact on women’s and girls’ lives and health.”

“More than a third of women worldwide have experienced either physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives,” the statement said. Furthermore, research indicates that the cost of violence against women could amount annually to around 2 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP). This is equivalent to 1.5 trillion dollars.

Beyond raising awareness, governments, the private sector, the artistic community, civil society organizations, academia and engaged citizens are again looking into new ways to urgently address this global scourge.

For more than 20 years, the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (managed by UN Women) has been investing in national and local initiatives that translate policy promises into concrete benefits for women and girls, and contribute to the prevention of violence in the long run.

As part of the Spotlight Initiative to end violence against women and girls, a global, multi-year partnership between the United Nations and the European Union, we are working with different partners to increase the scale and level of ambition of our interventions. We understand that reducing and preventing violence against women is transformational: it improves the heath of women and children, reduces risks of acquiring HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), improves economic productivity and educational attainment, and reduces the risks of mental illness and substance abuse, among other benefits.

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L-R: National Information Officer, United Nations Information Center, Dr. Oluseyi Shoremekun; U.S. Consul-General F. John Bray; Deputy-Governor, Lagos State, Dr. Idiat Adebule and Convener, Women Arise, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin  flanked by guests, at the Public Lecture.

Similarly, U.S. Consul General John Bray on Monday urged Nigerians to take a firm stand against impunity, stigma and the culture of silence which fuel violence against women and girls in the country.

Speaking at a public lecture organized by the rights group Women Arise and the United Nations Information Center, to mark the commencement of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, Bray noted that curbing escalating violence against women and girls would require candid testimony by survivors and open discussion of the societal factors that perpetuate gender-based violence.

“Women and girls in Nigeria must join their sisters across the world in raising their voices to say that we must break the culture of silence by bringing these stories to light. It is only by such exposure that we can rapidly bring the violence against women and girls to an end,” he said said.

The U.S. envoy also made a case for joint action by different stakeholders to forestall violence against women while taking legal action against offenders.

“We must work together as stakeholders, in order to be proactive and curb the violence against women and girls Where we fail to prevent such violence, it also important to make those who engage in violence and abuse know that there will be no impunity for their crimes, that society is outraged by such behaviour and they will be identified, they will be denounced, prosecuted, and punished,” Bray said.

Other speakers at the event included Dr. Idiat Adebule, Lagos State Deputy Governor and Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, human rights activist and founder, Women Arise. They were joined by the National Information Officer of the United Nations Information Center, Dr. Oluseyi Shoremekun.

 

Floral School elects new prefects, urges them on quality leadership

=By our correspondent=

The Floral Schools, comprised of nursery, primary and college, have elected new prefects and class representatives for the 2018/2019 academic year.

 Speaking at the swearing-in programme, the Proprietress, Mrs. Kemi Bamidele said that the event is an opportunity to see that the children are exposed early in life into leadership position, adding that parents should assist their wards in embracing quality leadership.

 She said, “What we are doing today is not ordinary. It is time to see the children appointed early in life. Parents should teach them to be good leaders and let them see what it entails to be a good leader. Let them come to school on time, do the right thing at the right time and we shall see them in greater heights in life.”

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index9 Cross section of class captains and prefects

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 In her speech, the Head Teacher, Nursery, Mrs. Tayo Taiwo explained that aside academic qualification, the school also looked at some qualities before choosing the class representatives and electing the prefects.  She said the school teaches leadership and character building and called on parents to help the pupils and students grow better daily in good leadership qualities.

 “Aside academics, we look at character and we want them to know that personality is important and that they are not ordinary. We saw some qualities like patience, tolerance, leadership roles before choosing them and we want parents to please maintain those qualities.

 “We see the stars in them and as parents, let’s nurture them, teach them the word of God, pray for them and pray with them. Teach them to obey authority, parents and teachers. Children, you are going places in life,” she said.

Also contributing, Head Teacher, Primary, Mr. Femi Roberts told the children that leadership position is not part of the fundamental human rights but that they must earn it. “Leadership position is not your right, you must earn it. You must learn to be responsible aside academic prowess”, he noted, charging them to behave and conduct themselves in a manner to meet up the expectation of their appointment and election as class captains and school prefects, respectively, and that the leadership qualities they possess should be manifested beyond the school environment.

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The swearing-in ceremony

 Similarly, the Chairman of the Election Committee, Mr. Sunday Bankole declared that the election was free and fair. He said the children campaigned and presented their manifestos before emerging winners in respective positions.

 “These children are great. What we are doing today is not just fun, parents should guide the children. We had ballot boxes and papers for the elections, the pupils voted and we have the results. There was a rerun for two candidates and this also helped the pupils in understanding leadership.  You should not be angry if you do not win the post you vied for, but every one of you is a winner and you all are prefects,” he said.

 Barrister Olufemi Abodunde, who conducted the swearing-in exercise, the urged the elected prefects to be consistent and have sense of duty.

 Meanwhile, speaking on behalf of the prefects in the primary section, the Head Boy, Romilogo Falobi, thanked the teachers and parents for their supports and the pupils for believing in them. “I want to thank my parents for their support. I thank my teachers for teaching me leadership. And on behalf of other prefects, I thank the pupils for voting for us. We will do our best to make the school better”, he said.

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Barrister Olufemi Abodunde, Romilogo Falobi and Mrs. Kemi Bamidele
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With Parents, Mr & Mrs Sanmi Falobi
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With fellow prefects and their parents

Jamal Khashoggi: AFEX Condemns Gruesome Murder of journalist, task UN on action against Saudi Arabia

The African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX), a network of prominent media and freedom of expression organizations across the continent, has condemned the October 2, 2018 gruesome murder of renowned Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, saying a country that indulges in such barbaric behaviour ought to be ostracized by the civilized world.

In a statement signed by Felicia Anthonio, issued on October 29, 2019 from its Secretariat in Accra,  AFEX called on the United Nations to demonstrate its commitment to the safety of journalists and ending impunity for crimes against journalists by taking decisive action against Saudi Arabia which, “despite the overwhelming evidence of official complicity in the murder of the journalist, has engaged in bare-faced denials, duplicity, peddling falsehoods and then grudging admission laced with half-truths.”

Chair of AFEX Steering Committee, Mr. Edetaen Ojo, said: “There can be no acceptable excuse or justification for the failure of the United Nations to take action against Saudi Arabia for this heinous state-sponsored crime against a journalist at a time when the international community, led by the UN, is trying to implement a series of measures to address the problem of crimes against journalists and end impunity for such crimes. A failure by the UN to sanction one of its members whose agents were responsible for this gruesome murder would rightly raise serious questions about its commitment to the safety of journalists and ending impunity for crimes against them.”

According to Mr. Ojo, “Given the evident use of Saudi Government resources to facilitate the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi and the involvement of multiple Saudi officials in the crime, including the initial efforts to cover it up, we have no faith any investigation conducted by Saudi Arabia or its ability to bring all those responsible to justice. Its continued refusal to disclose the whereabouts of the journalist’s remains is evidence that the country is still unwilling to come clean and make a full disclosure.”

He therefore called on the UN to launch an independent international investigation into the murder to establish the extent of involvement of various officials within the Saudi government, including who issued the order for the killing of the journalist and all those who played a role in the incident.

Mr. Ojo stressed that “It is only by so doing that the UN can convince the world that it is truly serious in its efforts, as outlined in various resolutions and plans on the subject adopted since 2012 by its organs and agencies such as the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council and UNESCO, aimed at ensuring the safety of journalists and ending impunity for crimes against journalists. To do nothing would be to give a stamp of approval to impunity!”

AFEX said it was seriously concerned about the lack of outrage coming from African governments over the incident, which gives the impression that African leaders are unconcerned about the act of barbarism that has shocked decent people and governments around the world.

It noted that with the exception of South Africa, which has expressed “concern” over the “disappearance” of the Saudi journalist, no other African government has commented on or condemned the action, while the South Africa itself continues to conduct business with the Gulf state despite allegations that government officials were involved in Khashoggi’s murder.

AFEX observed that African cultures and traditions are founded on the values of truth, fairness and justice, as a result of which it is difficult to understand the basis of the silence of African leaders in this matter.

According to the AFEX network, “besides the requirements of international norms and standards, even under African cultures and traditions, no society would condone the kind of behaviour that Saudi Arabia has exhibited.  All across the continent, the unlawful and unjustifiable killing of an individual such as in the case of Khashoggi would be considered a taboo or repugnant conduct and visited with drastic punishment.”

The Network therefore called on African leaders to have the moral courage to stand for fairness and justice and, accordingly, join the rest of the international community in unequivocally condemning the abhorrent action of Saudi Arabia.

Towards 2019: CCG urge electorates to vote well-meaning leaders

=By Sanmi Falobi=

The Centre for Constitutional Governance (CCG), Lagos has urged Nigerians to ensure that only leaders who mean well for the country and have the capacity to deliver are voted into the various political positions in the fort-coming 2019 general elections.

The Executive Director of the Centre, Dr. Adewale Balogun, who stated this in a press statement noted that that Nigerians have a wide range of choices to choose from and should stop behaving as if they do not. In his words, “there are a good number of candidates being fielded for the various positions by the different registered political parties in the country, so I see no reason why Nigerians should limit themselves”, he said.

In the statement signed by Juli Iregbu, CCG’s programme officer, Dr. Balogun also condemned votes buying and selling, especially as witnessed in recent times and even in the political party primaries. According to him, “vote buying obstructs the democratic process by interfering with the rights of citizens to freely decide who will represent them and their interests, ultimately, it undercuts citizens’ ability to hold their elected officials accountable after they must have bought themselves their mandates.

While also condemning the evidenced lack of transparency and internal democracy in the way and manner the political parties primaries were conducted, he called on INEC to improve in their efforts to ensure that the political parties and their candidates comply with laid down regulations in the Nigerian electoral laws on the electoral process such as the ones against the over-monetization of process and refusal of political parties and candidates to adhere to the stipulated campaigning time-frame as is already been witnessed.

Finally, he appealed to Nigerians, especially the Youth to “shun violence and to work together to support credible candidates with vision, focus and a mentality that is totally disparate to the present politics of business as usual and its attendant greed and colossal pillaging that have sucked majority of the people into avoidable poverty, degradation and lack of say.”

#OSUNDECIDES2018: IPC CONDEMNS HUMILIATION OF JOURNALISTS

-By Funmi Falobi-

The International Press Centre (IPC) has condemned the humiliation of journalists during the Osun State governorship election which ended Thursday, September 27, 2018.

According to report from Premium Times, 22nd September, 2018 “A mob attacked Oladipo Abiodun a Premium Times election observer at CAC, Ward 3 polling until at Isokan Local Government Area of Osun State. He was harrased by some persons because they suspected he was taking pictures. Mr. Abiodun’s jacket was torn and his tag was destroyed by hoodlums.”

“Kemi Busari, a Premium Times journalist who covered the Osun rerun election, was briefly arrested by the police this morning for taking pictures at Polling Unit one, Ward 8, Orolu Local Government Area. Mr. Busari who arrived the polling unit at about 7.40a.m. thought it fit to capture the voting process, but this landed him in police custody.”

“Some journalists were sent back mid-way on their journey to cover the rerun election in Ifon Osun, Orolu Local Government Area. They were sent back by police officers who were on the spot to barricade the entrance to the polling unit. The incident happened around 11.30a.m.”

The barred journalists were from diverse platforms such as Premium Times, The Cable, Sahara Reporters and some local media.

IPC Director, Mr. Lanre Arogundade said: “The various humiliations faced by journalists during the Osun State governorship election was very unfortunate and an impediment on democracy. The various incidents only portray what is likely going to occur during the forthcoming general election if immediate actions are not taken.”

“We therefore call on all media stakeholders and international agencies to dialogue and chart the way forward for a peaceful environment for journalists to carry out their responsibilities during the general elections.”

IPC once again condemns the humiliation of journalists in the just concluded Osun State governorship election, and demands a public apology from the Nigerian Police Force.

EU, UK, US commend Osun election, call for violent free re-run

=By Funmi Falobi=

The Missions of the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States have commended the conduct of the Osun governorship election and called for violent free rerun exercise on Thursday, September 27.

The missions while extolling the people of Osun State, Nigeria as well as the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and security operatives for peaceful voting,  urged all stakeholders to embrace credible completion of the electoral process as INEC has declared a rerun in seven polling units.

According to a statement, the missions “observed the voting in Osun State September 22.  We commend the people of Osun for voting peacefully, the Independent National Electoral Commission for the improved organisation of the election, and security services for their conduct.

“We urge that all continue to support a peaceful, free, fair, and credible completion of the process as INEC re-runs the election in seven polling units where — through no fault of their own — voters were not able to cast their votes and have them counted last Saturday. We stress the importance that the re-run should take place without any violence, intimidation, or vote buying.”

Consequently, the missions advised that whoever wins the election after Thursday’s vote should be magnanimous in victory, and whoever loses should be gracious in defeat.