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Premiere Academy: Orphans, family renew call for Keren’s killer-rapist to be brought to book

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**Celebrates her posthumous 16th birthday

Tears flowed freely with overwhelming emotions as orphans, in their numbers, joined family of late 14 year old Keren-Happuch Akpagher to celebrate her posthumous 16th year birthday even as they all renewed the call for her killer-rapists to be fished out and brought to justice.
Keren-Happuch was a boarding student of Premiere Academy, Lugbe, Abuja who was raped, with condom left inside her by the killer-rapist, which infected her with sepsis, spiked her blood sugar, leading to her death as a result of hyperglycaemia on the 22nd of June, 2021.


Speaking at the celebration of Keren’s posthumous 16th year birthday organised by two foundations – Keren’s Safe Haven and Men Against Rape Foundation (MARF), the Executive Director of the latter (MARF), Lemmy Ughegbe explained the significance of the event, stating that it was partly to remind the Nigerian people that justice had still not prevailed.
“Keren had big plans to celebrate what she called her “sweet sixteen” birthday. But unfortunately, her life was cut off before today. So, since we know she wanted to celebrate, we decided to do so at an orphanage and picked the theme – ‘Don’t let the rapist or a would-be-rapist bully you into silence’. Keren was bullied into silence by her rapist. We have chosen this theme in order to help fortify the kids and empower them to speak out and quickly too if they find anyone trying to abuse them or threatening their safety”, Ughegbe explained.
He lamented the lack of institutional support and the concerning refusal of the police to compel Premiere Academy to produce CCTV footages of June 15 and16, 2021, which would have helped to confirm or dispel claims that Keren could not walk to class on the morning of June 16, 2021 and had to be helped by classmates to walk in tears and pain.
“We want the world to know that the police failed us in all sense, but we remain steadfast and will continue to demand justice for the innocent child whose candle was put out in a brutal manner. If the rapist isn’t brought to book, then no child can be safe”, he added.
For Keren’s mother who was distraught at the event and unable to fight back her tears, Mrs Vivien Vihimga Akpagher, she wished she knew that the sweet sixteen birthday, she and her daughter had been planning towards would not come to pass the way they had planned it.
“Nevertheless, one thing I know is that we need to mark it in a way that exemplifies the life she led … the life of kindness and care for others. It would be Keren’s wish that no other child should suffer what she went through. She was raped and bullied into silence. So, we are here to celebrate with the kids and to tell them that the rapist and other abusers are cowards and when they say if you talk, we will kill you, never mind them. Speak out and loud, so you can get help. Do not let them bully you into silence”, Mrs Akpagher admonished.
“I also want the world to know that government and the police have failed us for two years now. How can the killer-rapist not be fished out and brought to justice and yet they pay lip service to the fight to end gender based violence. Let me reiterate that I speak not for myself or for my daughter, Keren. She is gone and nothing can bring her back. But I speak so that other Nigerian children will be safe”, she stated.
In her own remarks, the founder of the orphanage, Mrs. Gift Nwosu expressed concern that despite the alarming rise in rape and sundry acts of sexual violence, government and institutions of government concerned with addressing the matter are not committed to fighting the menace.
“If a case of rape occurs, perpetrators ought to be brought to book and committed to life imprisonment. If this is not done, others will be encouraged to commit more havoc. I see people accused of rape walking freely when they should face the law. This is because government and police are not doing what they should do”, she stated.
Highlights of the occasion was that the orphans took turns to pray for God to comfort Keren’s mum through her grief.

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NationalUpdate Woman

Joint EU-UN Spotlight Initiative, UNDP, FRED unveil Trailer for New Movie on Gender-Based Violence

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L-R Deputy Head of Delegation of the European Union to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and to ECOWAS,Zissimos Vergos; First Lady,Wife of the Governor of Katsina state,Hajia Fatima Radda; Minister of state for Labour and Employment, Nkiruka Onyejeocha; United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Matthias Schmole and Wife of the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning Aisha Bagudu during the Agenda for the Official Cast Unveiling''Deafening Silence in Abuja yesterday.
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A Nigerian movie with main objective to address the protracted issue of Gender-Based Violence, (GBV) is set to be released to the viewing public by the Joint European Union-United Nations Spotlight Initiative, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and in partnership with the Foundation for Resilient Empowerment and Development (FRED)

The film titled “Deafening Silence” is a Feature Length Feature Film, comprising 8 Episode Limited Series, and  44 Episode TV Series.

The Trailer of this Star-studded Film which seeks to spark deep conversations and create further awareness-around gender social norms and its challenges and the societal impact of GBV on women and girls, was unveiled to the media and key stakeholders on Tuesday, December 5, 2023,  at the United Nations, UN, Auditorium, Abuja.

It highlighted critical and important aspects of the movie that will keep Nigerians on edge, agitate their mind, and evoke important lessons about GBV issues in our society. It showed moments of reflection, sober mood, anger, and scenes that will stimulate the peoples unwavering support and resolution to join hands in the fight against the scourge.

The Deputy Resident Representative, UNDP, Mr. Blessed Chimrimuta in his opening address at the trailer reveal, indicated that the collaboration of the EU-UN, UNDP, and FRED with the Spotlight Initiative aligns seamlessly with the plans of the government of Nigeria and the EU-UN Gender Action Points.
“This intervention” he said, “seeks to challenge and reshape prevailing gender norms not only in Nigeria but beyond.” He admonished the participants at the event to reflect on the significance of the transformative journey we are embarking on. He reminded the audience that “Deafening Silence is not just a movie for entertainment,” but according to him, “It is a movie in search to deliver a compelling and thought-provoking moments that will serve as a catalyst for sparking wider conversation around gender inequality, and gender violence, against women.”
The UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Mattias Schmale, in his own remark expressed satisfaction for being part of the intervention against GBV, which is a priority for his organisation. He emphasised the need to find better ways of communicating and engaging the people on the issue of gender-based violence. He said that there is need to produce more films based on tackling the issues of human rights – which is relevant today as it was seventy five years ago. He reiterated that human rights of vulnerable people including women and children, particularly girls, should be protected.
The Deputy Head of Mission, EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Zissimos Vergos, emphasized that gender based violence is a global problem. He said that there is evidence to show that one in every three women out there is subjected to physical, sexual, or any other form of violence, in their lifetime. He affirmed that in the 21st century gender inequality remains among the key drivers of poverty and this undermines cohesion and balance in our society.
The Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission, Mr. Charles Ebuebe commended Spotlight Initiative and the partners and collaborators who joined forces to conceive and work on this project. He promised to stand behind the partners on the project and pledged to give all the necessary support within his jurisdiction. He frowned at a situation where people who suffer gender-based violence shy away from speaking up against abuse because of sociocultural reasons. He also talked about the challenges of none or ineffective laws to tackle the problem frontally.
In her overview of the Film “Deafening Silence” Onyinye Belinda Ndubuisi, UNDP Gender and Human Rights Lead, said that “The title “Deafening Silence” has been carefully chosen to encapsulate the profound paradox inherent in the issues, the movie and television series aim to address: Gender Equality, Gender Empowerment, and Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV).” She further stated that this film is to showcase to the world the transformative result chain Intervention Nigeria is capable of doing. “ Anchoring on the UNDP Human Development Report on Gender and Social Norms, there is need to showcase what we are doing global. We know that there are different types of gender-based violence, and we also understand that to change norms requires time – so it is not an overnight venture. This is why we are starting with a 5-Year plan,  and also to call on all our partners to come together for collaboration rather than fragmenting our efforts.” She said that Deafening Silence is an exciting and captivating Drama project that aims to deliver an immersive and compelling cinematic experience to its audience. The project story revolves around spotlighting the issues, challenges, and victories surrounding survivors of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and spotlighting all factors relating to GBV.

According to Onyinye, the film is weaved “Through a carefully crafted narrative and dynamic characters, as the project intends to engage viewers emotionally and intellectually, leaving a lasting impact. The aim, she said, is to capture the imagination and attention of the target audience, providing an enthralling and memorable viewing experience, while spotlighting the vices surrounding GBV.” She added that, “The project is committed to achieving a high level of artistic quality, utilizing innovative storytelling techniques, exceptional cinematography, and engaging performances.”

Fielding questions from reporters at the event, she said that, “The project is a splendid pointer to a public investment through meaningful storytelling that showcases various instances of abuse and injustice, such as rape, human trafficking, forced surrogacy, blackmail, and marital abandonment. It highlights the role of agencies in helping victims seek justice and support.”

The Film directed by Biodun Stephen Stars the Best of Nollywood – including but not limited to Toni Tones, Kate Henshaw, Femi Jacobs, Daniel Etim Effiong, Chidi Mokeme, and Bimbo Akintola. Others in the Blockbuster Film are Debby Felix and Ekamma Etim-Inyang. It also features Abiodun Adebayo as the Editor; Biodun Stephen as  Director; and Eemem Isong Misodi as Producer.

The movie which tells the horrible story of the social impact of GBV and its effect on people, families, and society in general, will be available in cinemas and selected TV stations as a series. The main aim is to inform, educate, and curb the issue of Gender-Based Violence in Nigeria.

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GBV: Stakeholders call for budgetary provision for Costed Multi-sectoral Action Plan

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****say Kogi records 2,203 cases so far in 2023

***Stakeholders call for budgetary provision for Costed Multi-sectoral Action Plan

By Friday Idachaba, Lokoja.

Stakeholders on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in Kogi state have called on the State Government to make budgetary provision fot the GBV Costed Multi-sectoral Action Plans to mitigate violence against women and girls in Kogi and around the world.

The Stakeholders made the call during a stakeholders’ meeting/ Press Conference organized by Centre for Integrated Health Programmes, (CIHP) in collaboration with the State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development in Lokoja.

The meeting was part of efforts to mark Orange the World 16 days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence Campaign in Kogi State running between 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) and 10th December (International Human Rights Day).

The Stakeholders at the meeting observed that Kogi state has continued to witness rise in cases of gender-based violence.

According to them, the National Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Data Situation Room and dashboard for prevention and response to Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in Nigeria has reported a total of 2,203 cases in Kogi so far in 2023.

Speaking at the occasion, Hajia Fatima Kabir Buba, Commissioner of Women Affairs and Social Development, Kogi State, said “Every year, the UNiTE Campaign focuses on a specific theme and this year’s theme is “UNITE! Invest to prevent violence against women and girls.

The Commissioner held that GBV and harmful practices were rooted in power imbalances between the sexes and fueled by multiple factors including social and cultural norms, social acceptance of harmful practices, and insufficient legal protections.

“The Nigerian Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) 2018 found that nine per cent of women aged 15 to 49 had suffered sexual assault at least once in their lifetime and 31 per cent had experienced physical violence”, she said.

Buba held that the state Government in the bid to mitigate the increasing incidences of GBV in the State had inaugurated a 23-member Technical Working Group to tackle the menace in the state with the cardinal object of ensuring that gender equality is upheld in all spheres of human life.

Eunice Abimbola Agbogun, Executive Director, Challenged Parenthood Initiative (CPI), in her presentation, urged that priority attention must be given to costed multi-sectoral action plan which she described as a multi-year road map.

Agbogun, the main brain behind the adoption of Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act in Kogi state said that the concept was designed design to justify resource mobilization and leverage of financial and technical resources from stakeholders.

“Costed action plans provide guidance on which activities to give priority to, expand and support in a bid to put an end to all forms of Gender Based Violence in Kogi State and Nigeria in general”, she stressed.

Amb. Idris Ozovehe Muraina, Chairperson, Kogi Non-Governmental Organizations Network (KONGONET), urged Kogi State Government to capture the Multi-sectoral costed action plans in the 2024 budget to enable effective implementation of the VAPP Law.

“Kogi State must adopt in totality, the costed multi-sectoral action plan on GVB intervention. This summarily means that every Ministry, Department and Agency in Kogi State will swing in issues of GBV in their annual budget and ensure it is captured”, he said.

Muraina said it was therefore imperative for Civil Society Organizations to monitor and track implementation of every facet of the Costed Multi-sectorial Action Plan on GBV at MDAs level.

Speaking at the meeting earlier, Kalu Samuel Uko, the Gender Mainstreaming Associate at CIHP said Gender Based Violence remains a societal nightmare that must be stopped, stressing that, all hands must be on deck to address this menace.

According to him, CIHP has continued to put measures in place to ensure that States tap into their agenda to kick against all forms of Gender Based Violence across the Country.

Highlight of the occasion was the pledge by various stakeholders including the non state bodies like the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Security agencies including the National Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the Media among others. (Ends)

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Why Gender bills would not fail under the 10th NASS, by Senator Kingibe

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***As women stage roadwalk against GBVH in Abuja

The senator representing the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in the national Assembly, Senator Ireti Kingibe has explained why the 10th National Assembly will revisit the Five gender bills that were rejected during the ammendment of 1999 Constitution in the 9th National Assembly.
She said their male counterparts are now convinced of the relevance of the bills. Hence, she is convinced that the bless will get their blessings when it is time to amend the constitution.

It would be recalled that the five gender bills failed to fly in the immediate past 9th National Assembly as they couldn’t secure the required majority votes.
It was discovered that the bills failed largely because male legislators could not be convinced of their relevance.
The senator who Spoke on Saturday at the awareness walk to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, said sith the support of the men she is confident the bills will sail through this time around

“Without any exaggeration, women are the backbone of this country. We are the backbone of any country. We are the backbone of the home. Can we survive with a broken backbone?
“Nigeria is a country that is lagging behind in all human development indices
“Therefore Gender Based Violence and Harrassment(GBVH) must stop, and how will it stop? It is going to stop when there is proper reporting and proper consequence and collective responsibility, male and female, as you can see from the number of the organizations represented here we have decided that women are going to unite to fight Gender Based Violence and Harrassment(GBVH)

She acknowledged that the bills suffered setbacks in the 9th Assembly, but in the 10th Assembly, she does not expect the bills to fail.
She said even the men understand that for Nigeria to fully develop, they can not leave behind 50% of its population.
“So with the cooperation of the men and all Nigerians, including NGOs, the media and everybody the bills will sail through. We must insist on it. You must insist on it that it is a goal that must be achieved in this 10th assembly, whatever it takes.

“The 10th assembly would work towards getting presidential assent for the bills
The minister of women Affairs, Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, in her speech,  said their is a mobile Court that will take on pepertrators of GBVH as she asked Nigerian men to protect the women, their wives and daughters
We will stand by you. We affirm our commitment at the UN to the fight against GBV. We are at the forefront.

Representative of the UN, Kuawu Kowsin, said the gathering was to sensitize the people on the importance of joining hands to end Gender Based Violence Against Women.
“GBV has been an issue that is not only in Nigeria but a number of countries, so the UN has joined the ministry of Women Affairs to send a message that we are together to Eliminate Violence Against Women
“We have already taken a lot of steps in Preventig GBV. We have been talking to the people in the various communities to sensitize people about the harmful consequences of GBVH.
“When they become aware they will stop to perpetrate this harmful practice but also there is a lot of work that is being done by the UN to assist and support the survivors of GBVH psychologically and to help them to seek justice.
On whether there is any protection for men against violence he said, “There is a new law about Violence Against the people in general, this is also part of it but you know Violence Against Women is the major issue, Violence Against men is also covered.”

Barrister Louis Auta of the Network of Women With Disabilities who spoke on behalf of women and girls with Disability said they are tired of the exclusion.

“We are tired of GBVH. We are tired of violence against women and the girls with Disability and we are here to say Bye-bye to GBVH.”
The event for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women which started at the Eagle square as early as 7am on Saturday morning witnessed a large turn out of women from all works who engaged the awareness roadwalk to the Unity fountain square.
At the Unity Fountain, there was a cannival of sort as the women expressed their determination to ensure all violence against women are eliminated.

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