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Baobab For Women’s Rights, CITAD Join Forces To Combat SGBV In Kano State

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By Mariya Shuaibu Suleiman

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Despite the establishment of Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPP) on May 25, 2015 in Nigeria to prevent and criminalize various forms of violence against persons including rape, sexual abuse, harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), forced marriage, and domestic violence, Kano State is yet to domesticate and implement the act in the State and this according to Malam Abdullahi Shehu, the State Coordinator of Human Right Commission, has resulted to increasing cases of rape and other forms of sexual abuse in the State as the receives such cases on a daily basis.

Based on the data given by the Kano State Chapter of International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), WARAKA Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) has documented over 4000 cases of sexual violence in Kano in the last five years. In response to the escalating incidence of SGBV cases and the urgent need for enforceable laws in the State, that the Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) and BAOBAB for Women’s Right took a big step and begin series of campaigns against SGBV, writing and advocating to the State Government to domesticate and Implement VAPP act in the State in order to ensure punishment for the perpetrators and to also to reduce cases of SGBV in the State.

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The two organizations are spearheading a transformative movement to combat the pervasive issue of SGBV. Baobab for Women’s Human Rights, a dedicated NGO championing women’s rights, and the Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), renowned for its innovative use of technology, work separately and independently towards addressing and eradicating SGBV in the region.Background of the Two OrganizationsBAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights (BAOBAB) was established in 1996, seeking to address the myriad of barriers to the actualization of women’s rights in all their forms under the three parallel systems of law in Nigeria, namely customary, religious, and statutory laws, especially in Muslim-majority communities.

With this award, BAOBAB advances women’s access to justice and personal security in the three northern states of Bauchi, Kano, and Jigawa. The organization enhances the uptake and effective implementation of the Violence against Persons Prohibition law to protect women from gender-based violence in the three states. BAOBAB’s mission is “to promote women’s human rights principally via improving knowledge, exercise and development of rights under religious laws, customary laws and statutory laws.”While Centre for Information Technology and Development on the other hand, is a Nigeria non-governmental organization that was established to promote democracy and active citizenship through information and communication technology in addendum to civic empowerment programs, aimed at raising awareness about the use of ICTs in development with a mission to empower citizens for a just and knowledge-based society that is anchored on sustainable and balanced development using ICT, capacity development, advocacy, research and partnership​ and a vision to be a knowledge-based democratic and self-reliant society. This organization uses technological innovation to combat SGBV in Kano, by designed GBV app to report and monitor SGBV cases in Kano.However, Baobab for Women’s Rights has been a stalwart advocate for gender equality and justice in Kano State, focusing on dismantling the root causes of violence against women while providing support to survivors. Simultaneously, CITAD has been at the forefront of leveraging technology to address societal challenges, emphasizing the role of digital tools in combating SGBV.Initiatives and AdvocacyBaobab as an organization that fight for women’s right, put a lot of initiatives in place, raising awareness and also supports SGBV survivors in so many ways. Rahinatu Ahmad Mohammad, the State Coordinator of Baobab for Women’s Rights, Kano State Outreach Team highlighted Human management education, advocacy campaigns, awareness and sensitization both physically and through radio programs as some of their key initiatives to eliminate the SGBV in Nigeria particularly in Kano State.“We put a lot of initiatives in place as part of our efforts to eliminate SGBV in Kano and these initiatives includes: creating awareness and sensitization on the menace of SGBV in the State physically and through Radio programs. One of such programs is “Layin Kukah” on Freedom Radio which was aired from June to October in the three project states of Kano, Bauchi and Jigawa.“We also offer Human management education.”Rahinatu added that they also supports SGBV survivors in several ways: counseling, referrals and para-legal services by linking them to pro.“We provides counseling and psycho social support to the survivors of SGBV. What we do is, once a case is brought to us, we refer the survivors to Sexual Referral Centers (SARC) available in the state.“We also offer paralegal services, linking the survivors of SGBV to pro Bono lawyers.”She said Baobab also putting a lot of efforts, advocating for the Violence Against Person Prohibitions Act (VAPP Act) to be domesticated in Kano.“We believe that if a law like the VAPP Act will be put in place, things will get better and this is why the Baobab Kano outreach team last year carried out advocacy visits to duty bearers and gatekeeper in the state (commissioners, religious leaders, traditional leaders among others) with the aim at getting they duty bearers and gate keepers in the state to have a favorable view of the VAPP Act. We believed that when the VAPP Act is finally domesticated in the State, it will greatly reduce if not curb the increasing incidence of SGBV cases in the state in Kano State.”She also explained how the organization collaborates with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Community Based Organizations (CBOs), local communities and other stakeholders to create a more comprehensive response to SGBV.“We collaborate and work with like-minded organizations towards eliminating SGBV in Kano. Baobab has a number of coalitions that fight against SGBV and agitates for the domestication of the VAPP Act in State.“These coalitions includes: Coalition for Policy Advocacy in Kano (CPAK) and Coalition against Rape and Violence (CARAV).“We also organizes sensitization programs and meetings with Cso’s and Cbo’s on ending SGBV in Kano. Rahinatu pointed that Baobab improves women’s legal knowledge about their rights under the existing laws with regards to SGBV.A Twenty year old Maryam Bukar (not a real name) and a beneficiary of Baobab for Women’s Rights said she was supported by the organization after was raped and she therefore urged the organization to continue with their efforts because it makes a lot of impacts in the society.Technological Innovation-CITAD’s GBV AppOn the part of Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), the organization uses its expertise in technology in bringing a unique dimension in the fight against SGBV. The Centre Gender Technical Officer, Zainab Aminu said the organization sees technology as a tool for development and believes that leveraging technological innovations in eliminating the issue of SGBV as paramount.Mrs. Aminu explained how the organization uses technological innovation and created a GBV App as one of their initiatives to fight SGBV in the State. “As part of our initiatives to eliminate SGBV in Kano, we created, designed and deployed a Gender Based Violence Mobile Application (GBV App) in 2021, available on Google Play Store, to be monitoring and reporting cases of SGBV with the aim to connect survivors with the support they need and also yield an extensive database on SGBV cases across Kano state, particularly in public schools, so that Kano citizens especially, women and girls can plan safer education for themselves and their loved ones.”She highlighted on the significance of the data gotten through the GBV App in shaping policy formulation.“The Centre believed that the data gotten may give government authorities, civil society movements, media houses and women organization a deeper understanding of gender-based violence across Kano to identify unmet needs and raise public awareness and to shape policy on safety in public spaces.”Zainab said after the Centre created the Application, they trained some youths to serves as the GBV Ambassadors and be monitoring, tracking and reporting the SGBV cases on the GBV App. According to one of the trained SGBV Monitors, Comrade Ibrahim Salihu, the GBV App is the easiest platform for the SGBV survivors to report their cases with utmost confidentiality and to gather a comprehensive and accurate data about the SGBV cases in Kano.“The application serves as the easiest platform to be monitoring, tracking GBV cases without revealing the identity of the survivors and it also help us to create a comprehensive database on GBV hotspots across Kano state, particularly in public schools.”“The cases is being reported by different SGBV monitors across Kano. “Salihu said sexual harassment is now prevalent on campuses and the community at large and they victims of SGBV are both gender male or female but it is mostly occurs to the female gender than males and it can happened anywhere: physically or online, traumatizing the victims.He mentioned that SGBV takes many forms and its includes: sexual harassment on Campuses, rape, spousal abuse, sexual gratification for job or marks, etc.He added that the data gotten will help in identifying where the problem is so as to address them effectively by the State.“Reporting the cases on the app will give accurate data and information of the real problems so that it can be addressed and end the menace as it becomes a major problem to our society.Salihu said after reporting each case, they used to link the survivor to the Centre for the next action to be taken.He added that after reporting the case, concerned Agencies and Organizations that show concern used to contact the Centre to synergize on the ways forward and push for the prosecution of perpetrators of the act.Salihu also revealed that Kano State Government knows about the GBV App because the Centre organizes Monthly Press Conference on GBV where they give updates on the issue including the number of cases they received every month. Another GBV monitor, Mustapha Sani Mudi said the App consist features that enables the user to be anonymous and all forms of GBV can be reported on it. Mudi added that, they first reports the case to the nearest Police Station or Civil Defense offices and then upload the information on the App and ensure that the offender is prosecuted accordingly.Based on the previous information released by the Centre, the GBV App monitored and recorded 171 SGBV cases from November, 2022, to February, 2023, constituted of rape cases and other sexual abuses. Zainab also revealed that CITAD has put a lot of efforts and conducted a series of advocacies, advocating and writing to the Kano State Government to domesticate VAPP Act in State with the hope of eliminating the issue of SGBV in the State.She pointed that, efforts and resources can only be successful if the VAPP Act is domesticated in the State so as to ensure proper punishment of the perpetrators, this she and other SGBV advocates believes will be the only antidote to eradicating the issue of rape and other sexual gender violence in Kano.Meanwhile, on the other efforts put in place by the organization, the Gender Technical officer also mentioned awareness campaign, sensitizations, community outreach, radio programmes, and stakeholders’ engagements as the other strategies adopted by the Centre to engage the public and encourage active participation in the fight against SGBV in the State thereby creating a positive and lasting behavioral change.“The role CITAD see for education and awareness campaign in building a sustainable movement is creating a lasting behavioral change through awareness and sensitization. Awareness and sensitization, is a very important key, so in educational institutions, in every opportunity that we have, we believed that creating awareness is going to help in creating a positive behavioral change and also guide people on how to behave and how to relate socially when it comes to issues related to SGBV.”She added that the Centre also use its social media platforms ( Whatsapp, Twitter X, Facebook and their Website) to publicize SGBV related information.Zainab also highlighted how online GBV perpetrated the society through technological tools and how the Centre is leveraging technology in raising awareness.“And if you look at the issue related to online GBV that perpetrated technology tools, more awareness is being created for people to know that there are some things that you do on the online space that constitutes GBV and we are also leveraging the use of technology to see that we address that challenge.”However, she said they Centre does not deal with the SGBV survivors directly because the work with collaborative organizations and because of confidentiality of the victims but once they received a case, they refer the victim to Sexual Referrel Centre (SARC) and other concerned authorities and agencies..

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”We work with other CSOs, agencies and SARC by linking SGBV survivors to the necessary support required. If they need help with legal issues, we link them up with FIDA. If it’s first responder, we contact NSCDC and also Human Rights Commission for referral.”She added that they have a coalition of GBV response team from different CSOs and referral Centre like WARAKA Sexual Referral Centre where they refer most of the cases. According to one of the SGBV survivors that preferred to be anonymous, a 16 year old, said after her terrible experience, she had about the GBV App and with the help of one of GBV Monitors her case was reported and she was later referred to SARC for further support.“The GBV App may not be feel but it is changing the narrative because it helped me and linked me to where I got treated if not I could have been in the same pain. So encourage the Centre to continue with the good work and I am calling on the State Government to please domesticate the VAPP Act so that people like me can be safe in the community. Rape is a terrible experience because it will live you with a life-time scar that you will never forget.” She said the Centre has conducted several SGBV projects in Kano State the last three years under the support of Ford Foundation, adding that are still looking for more partnerships with International organizations and other international donors to continue raising awareness and eradicating SGBV in the State.The two organizations though working separately and independently, but the plays a significant shift in addressing SGBV comprehensively.

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The both employs a multifaceted approach, blending traditional advocacy with cutting-edge technology to create a holistic strategy. Workshops, Advocacies, awareness campaigns, and community outreach programs as key components, educating the public on the importance of preventing and addressing SGBV as well as supporting the SGBV survivors with the help they needed. Impacts Made by the two OrganizationsThe two organizations made some positive impacts in the lives of survivors, within the community and to the State Government as the provided robust support network, legal assistance to the SGBV survivors, gathering SGBV data (monitored and recorded over thousands of SGBV cases in the state) for the benefit of the government and policy makers, and the use of technology for reporting and intervention are transforming the narrative surrounding SGBV in Kano State. The organizations Personal testimonials from survivors underscore the positive changes brought about by Baobab and CITAD’s individual efforts.However, the efforts of Baobab for Women’s Rights and that of CITAD serves as a beacon of hope, demonstrating tangible change that can be achieved when all concern organizations can raise up and work towards tackling the SGBV problem. Therefore, these initiatives calls for the State Government respond and action to domesticate and implement the VAPP Act in the State to ensure the proper punishment of the culprits. Also, the efforts put in place by these organizations also call for widespread support from individuals, communities, and other government agencies to support and amplify these initiatives, fostering a future where everyone, irrespective of gender, can live free from fear and violence.To this end, Baobab and CITAD exemplify the potential for transformative change when passion, dedication, and innovation converge. In Kano State, they are not merely addressing SGBV; they are actively rewriting the narrative, advocating and appealing to the State Government to domesticate and implement the VAPP Act to ensure punishments of the perpetrators there by creating a safer space and a future free from all forms of sexual and gender-based violence.This story is supported by BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights and Written by Mariya Shuaibu Suleiman is a Multimedia Journalist, interested in reporting women related issues and amplifying women & children voices, seeking for justice and accountability.

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