By Milena Rampoldi and Denise Nanni, ProMosaik. In the following our interview with Anita Okoro of EVEWS, a Nigerian foundation for girls empowerment to struggle against sexual abuse and exploitation. Would like to thank Anita for her detailed answers to our questions.
How was founded EVEWC?
EVEWC foundation was found due to true life story of the founder Anita Okoro which was formally the civil society organization (CSO) called “Help Our Girls” (HOG) in 2012. As we continued carrying out our work as a local CSO; advocating for girl’s education and conducive environment for girls to learn. We move from schools to school to educate girls on sexual abuse and how they can defend themselves when they are in danger of being victim of sexual abuse. We also go to religious houses like church etc. to get the attention of parents and educate them on importance of paying attention and listen to the children especially the girls.
We realize that there is a lot of gap in Nigeria in issues of sexual abuse; hundreds of girls in some schools we visited reported some of their male teachers who exploit and abuse them sexually and the male teachers will tell them if they do not comply or report to school authority the girls cannot pass the subject. In some cases, the school authority is aware but to protect the image of their school they will not want the sexual abuse case to go further. Some of the girls in school who attended our sexual abuse cause will come and open up to us, that their uncle or nice etc. raped them at home. It is based on this enormous complains from these children and also my own experience that pushed me to register EVEWC foundation. We believe that this will help us to widely advocate against sexual abuse and close the gap of inequality between girls and boys.
What are the main gender-related issues in Nigeria?
In what ways do you promote awareness about gender based violence? Do you involve men?
Do you cooperate with local authorities and institutions? If yes, how?