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April 22, 2024
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Some of the beneficiaries of Sexual Offences Awareness and Victims Rehabilitation Initiative’s ‘Right to be a Girl’s Project’ during graduation in Pigba Kasa community, Abuja.

SOAR Initiative changing the narratives on child sexual abuse in Abuja community

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By Angela Atabo

Pigba Kasa community in Apo District, Abuja, says the intervention of Sexual Offences Awareness and Response Initiative (SOAR Initiative), an NGO, is changing the narratives on child sexual abuse and early marriage in the community.

The community members stated this during the graduation of beneficiaries of the NGO’s ‘Right to be a Girl’s Project’ in the community on Monday.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the project, a nine-month intervention, is being supported by Mundo Cooparente, a Spanish humanitarian aid organisation.

The project is designed to empower 240 vulnerable adolescent girls from ages 10 to 16 with the right information and life-skills to protect themselves from violations, improve their ability to speak out against SGBV and forced marriage.

The Chief of Pigba Kasa community, Ayuba Kulobi, described the project as a game changer in addressing the challenges of SGBV in the community.

Kulobi said that prior to the project, the incidence of SGBV was high,but now on a downward trend due the  NGO’s intervention.

He particularly said that the Right to be a Girl’s Project has empowered adolescent girls with the needed information on how to protect their rights and seek redress when violated.

He added that the NGO helped the community to set up a Community Protection Committee (CPC) centre, where community members meet monthly to share ideas and advise families on how to address SGBV.

“More so, we now have access to the police, and we can call them anytime we have issues of SGBV. Gladly, the police intervened promptly and made arrests.

“Due to these interventions, we now hardly record cases of SGBV in our community,” he said.

The Deputy Chairperson of CPC in the community, Ms Christiana Manji, said the community members were now speaking out courtesy of the project.

“Hidden issues are now being exposed because people now know their rights and can seek redress,” she said.

Similarly, the committee’s secretary, Mr Ibrahim Idris, said that several persons have been arrested over alleged domestic and sexual abuse.

Some of the beneficiaries of the project thanked SOAR Initiative for the gesture, saying it broadened their knowledge on the rights of the girl-child among others.

One of them, a 13-year-old Jessica George, said she now knows a lot about sexual abuse, dangers of early marriage and self-esteem.

The story was the same for Mary Ayuba, a 10-year-old, who said that the project has empowered her to defend herself against SGBV.

“I am so empowered that I can now help other girls to overcome SGBV and enlighten them on how to seek help,” the girl said.

The Youth Advocate of the NGO, Miss Lolade Ipele, expressed satisfaction on how the adolescent girls embrace the 12-week project.

“I saw them grow from timid girls to intelligent girls with confidence to face the future,” Ipele said.

The Project Officer, Mr Yakubu Levi, said that the project was implemented in two communities – Chafuyi and Pigba Kasa, leveraging four public schools serving the communities.

Levi said that the girls were trained on safe spaces and other life skills, including access to case management, psycho-social counseling, and legal-aid services.

For sustainability, the project officer said that the NGO would support the establishment of a girls’ club in the four benefiting schools in collaboration with FCT Education Secretariat. (NAN)

Edited by Philip Yatai

Philip Daniel Yatai

Principal Correspondent, NAN Abuja
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