Stakeholders task media on SGBV fight through data-driven reporting

Stakeholders at the public presentation of Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) media justice status report on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) in Nigeria have tasked the media on fight against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence through data-driven reporting.

A press statement by WSCIJ Executive Director/CEO, Motunrayo Alaka, said the presentation of the report titled: ‘Missing Data, Missing Justice’ was held virtually.

He said, the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, and Professor of Law, Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, who chaired the event, commended WSCIJ for leading conversations on SGBV through evidence-based data.

Prof Ezeilo said the report would help stakeholders appreciate the challenges faced by SGBV victims and survivors in accessing justice.

“You can begin to appreciate the surreptitious nature of this violence and how this impacts women’s human rights. I think this is the type of evidence that we need.

“During the COVID-19 era, the spike in SGBV cases was alarming. Tracking cases through the media is important because it gives you a glimpse into the magnitude of the problem and the repercussion for women in Nigeria,” Ezeilo further stated.

In her review of the report, Executive Director of Women Advocate Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC) and lawyer, Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, lauded the centre for the effort to monitor 14,004 stories on women and girls and sample 91 of the stories for their justice status. She affirmed that the report is an important tool for the media to hold governments accountable. She identified some gaps in the records of the police and courts based on the report. She said 88 of the 91 cases sampled were reported to the police and other law enforcement agencies. 56 of the 88 cases were charged to court; 14 were not, and 18 cases could not be traced.

On her part, WSCIJ executive director/CEO explained that the report was developed to underscore the implications of missing evidence in justice administration on SGBV.

She noted that the report produced with support from Open Society Foundations (OSF)-Africa under the 2021 Report Women! Female Reporters Leadership Programme (FRLP) spanned three years (2018-2021) and unravelled the extent of poor documentation of SGBV in the value chain of justice.

In his goodwill message, Programme Coordinator, OSF-Africa, Paul Adeyeye, said missing evidence in the value chain for SGBV causes delay in justice administration and delivery, leaving justice seekers frustrated and disappointed.

Lending her voice to the importance of evidence-based reporting in combating SGBV cases, Executive Director, Women Radio, Toun Okewale Sonaiya, noted that the media must empower women to speak up through advocacy.

She appealed to the media to thoroughly research cases of SGBV to avoid being the missing link in justice delivery.

Similarly, Chairperson, International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Lagos chapter, Phil Nneji, said the report title was apt as it showed the importance of adequate data to mete out justice. She noted that evidence was very key, and lack of evidence meant death of SGBV cases on arrival. On his part, Coordinator, African Centre for Media and Information Literacy, Chido Onumah, commended the centre for the report and expressed the need to have a roundtable of stakeholders to further dissect the issues of denied justice and make sure perpetrators are brought to book.

Other stakeholders at the event included Veteran Broadcaster, Bimbo Oloyede; Executive Director, Media Career Development Network, Lekan Otufodunrin,; Managing Editor, International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), Ajibola Amzat; Executive Director, Safer-Media Initiative, Peter Iorter; and Researcher at African Women in Media (AWiM), Kaneng Rwang-Pam.

The stakeholder stressed the need for training to improve SGBV reportage and establish SGBV desks in media organisations.

They also advocated naming and shaming of perpetrators and their enablers, as well as continuous media advocacy to drive a change.

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