Cluster leaders at the Project Alert training on "Combating Gender based violence and reporting rape cases" among Women and Girls with Disabilities. Leading the fight for justice for these vulnerable Women and Girls is Civil Rights Activist, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin.

By Adeyanju Adewale

Project Alert, a Non-Governmental Organization has intensified efforts towards training Persons with Disabilities on combating gender based violence and reporting rape cases among the Disability Community in Lagos State.

The training is being conducted in the 20 Local Government Areas of Lagos State.

Earlier, on Tuesday 22nd September, 2020, Persons with Disabilities were selected, 5 from each Clusters. These included the Deaf, the Blind, Persons with Spinal Cord injuries, Persons with Physical Disabilities, those with Intellectual Disabilities and others. They were selected from Ikeja District and underwent training at 1, Akin Osiyemi office of Spotlight Initiative.

The training, according to organizers, will be taken round other local government areas so that more and more persons with disabilities can benefit.

The training which was facilitated by Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, the radical human rights activist, a 2013 US Secretary of State and International Women of Courage Award winner, had in attendance different leaders among persons with disabilities at the training which spanned two sessions – morning and afternoon.

In her opening address to the trainees, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin said that she believes fighting for the rights and privileges of the ordinary Nigerians is a fight that must not be compromised.

For this reason she has taken upon herself to lead in the fight against abuse of Women and Girls with Disabilities.

While affirming that the training is basically aimed at Women and Girls with Disabilities, she noted that they have to be considerate and include the men so they can learn and give support to women when necessary.

She reiterated the fact that she has had to intervene in many cases of abuse against women noting that the evil in Nigeria is not only embarrassing but appalling.

“We have intervened in cases where fathers sleep with their own daughters; in cases where the owner of an Orphanage was having carnal knowledge of minors in his care, how a man used the knife on his wife for no other reason than the wife not giving him enough meat to eat. The horror in the land is enormous, and Persons with Disabilities are not excluded” she lamented.

Going further, she ask members if the Disability Community is free of violence or without rape cases, to which members screamed, “Our community also have it” “No one is without problem” and so on.

Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin then used the opportunity to appeal to participants to “go take up the fight against gender based violence and report rape cases in your own community”, Assuring that she is ready to provide free legal services for anyone in need of justice, she released addresses and contact telephone numbers of sister Organizations working on similar projects. Some of these are Mirable Centre, Women Advocate Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC), Baobab, WOCON etc.

The climax of the training was the formation of a WhatsApp Group Forum in which a leader per Cluster was selected to give report of victims of gender based violence in their various clusters. Members of the forum are to meet at set dates to give reports and updates on their cluster. Zero tolerance for offenders who abuse women, and justice for their victims were assured if cases are reported early.

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