A group of Journalists in Akwa Ibom State were part of advocates joining the global campaign against Sexual and Gender based Violence.
The group known as The Pen Girls visited Methodist Girls Secondary School, Utu/Ikpe (jointly owned by Essien Udim and Ikot Ekpene Local Government Areas) on Thursday, December 7, 2023, being the 13th day of the global advocacy.
Speaking at the visit, leader of the Pen Girls, Comrade Priscilla Akpanettot explained that the advocacy was necessary to raise awareness on the spate of violence perpetrated against women and girls by those who should protect them.
She reminded the school girls of their dreams and career prospects, and charged them to guard those ambitions tenaciously by protecting their bodies from defilers and reporting any threat to life to relevant authorities.
Corroborating Akpanettot’s position, Comrade Mary Ekere urged the girls to break the culture of silence if and when molested or threatened. She told them that that the dangers of a closed mouth could include depression, mental illness, emotional withdrawal, loss of concentration and eventual death. She then listed a number of contacts the girls could call in cases of emergency, while assuring them of a swift response.
Speaking on the various forms of gender-based violence, Comrade Ekemini Akpan pointed at a number of offences committed against women, such as rape, genital mutilation, incest and the likes. She exposed the school girls to the ways in which the violations can occur, and advised them to be vigilant and wise with those they share the same physical space with.
She however warned them to desist from indecent dressing, stressing that like uncovered food, an uncovered body attracts flies.
Lastly, Comrade Amadie Udoakpan told the girls of the Laws jurisdicting gender-based violence. “The fine for rape is 14 years in prison. Genital mutilation is 4 years imprisonment with a fine of N200,000. Stalking is 2 years in prison and a fine of N500,000, so do not keep quiet and allow the culprit go scot-free. Report them to the authorities and protect your right to a bright promising future”, she admonished.
Copies of the Simplified VAPP Law, Referral Pathway booklets and GBV training manual were given to the School for the girls’ use, while 50 bag packs containing sanitary items were distributed to the girls.
Responding to the gesture, the visibly elated Principal, Mrs. Affiong Inua commended the Pen Girls for bringing the advocacy to her school. She remarked that it has been ages the School had such visits and requested for subsequent visits. She also promised to ensure that what was taught the girls and contents of the educational materials will be incorporated into their academics.
Earlier in her address of welcome, she informed that Methodist Girls Secondary School founded in 1956 by the Women Fellowship of Methodist Church Nigeria, Ikot Ekpene; was established to groom the girl-child beyond the widely held belief back then that a woman’s place lies in the kitchen.
“The School has produced many prominent women who have proven that there’s no profession a woman cannot attempt”. She therefore called on members of the public make the School their choice, saying it is open to girls from any religion and denomination.
Also, the Head Girl in her vote of thanks prayed God to bless The Pen Girls, and assured that they will uphold what they have been taught.
The 16 Days advocacy against SGBV which began on November 25, 2023 and ended on Sunday, December 10, 2023 was themed “Unite! Invest to Prevent Gender Based Violence Against Women and Girls.”