One reason why violence against women, especially at the community level, seems to be a non-ending cycle is that often, the perpetrators of these heinous acts are not made to face the wrath of the law. The victims or the community sometimes protect them. And in other cases, victims don’t know how to protect themselves under the purview of the law.
Understanding the place of the law and people knowing their rights in curbing gender-based violence, South Saharan Social Development Organization conducted a one-day workshop for 37 women of the Sister Guardian executives from the 19 communities where the project is currently running. The women comprised the presidents and secretaries of each chapter of the initiative.
The workshop aimed to build the capacity of the Sister Guardians on the provision of the constitution on violence against women and the associated punishment. The Sister Guardian toolkit was also reviewed and unanimously validated for adoption. The Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) law was also reviewed to help the women be well-rounded in tackling gender-based violence cases.
It also focused on the following:
- To incorporate the knowledge in the course of their work in the community and also step down their learnings to community members
- The documentation of the cases adjudicated in the case registers provided by SSDO
Going forward, this workshop will better serve the Sister Guardians to better advocate, mediate, and proffer solutions to gender-based violence cases they deal with.
l Built the capacity of 37 executive members of the Sister Guardian women (presidents and secretaries) on the aims and objectives of the SGI, rationale behind the selection of communities and composition of the executive membership and its work in relation to knowledge and access to human rights
l Reviewed the Sister Guardian Toolkit document to unanimously validate it for adoption
l General review of the VAPP law as enshrined in the 1999 Nigeria constitution as amended
l Practical revision on the documentation of the Sister Guardian case register
The women complained that one of the difficulties they face in functioning effectively in their different communities is the inability to involve the police in some of the matters they adjudicate on that needs police attention.
During the review of the Sister Guardian Toolkit, the women made the following recommendations on chapter 4 [Conflict Resolution] page 10 on the section that talks about “matters Sister Guardian can mediate on”. The women identified cases they adjudicate which were not captured in the Toolkit, and they include:
The threat of murder from the spouse
Young men impregnating young women and refusing to marry them
The burden of women catering to the family alone cause hitches in the marriage
Disallowing women to see their children during separation