No fewer than 120,000 students in 91 public secondary schools across the four geopolitical zones of Ogun State have been sensitized to desist from acts of sexual harassment, bullying and other social vices associated with gender-based violence.
Speaking with newsmen in Ijebu Ode, the Project Coordinator of Ogun State Economic Transformation Project (OGSTEP), Mrs. Mosunmola Owo-Odusi disclosed that the project which is in partnership with World Bank is aimed at putting an end to every form of Gender-Based violence among students of public secondary schools in the State.
She added that the programmes is also meant to introduce the students to available sexual and assault referral centres and other support services that survivors can make use of in Ogun State in case of any harassment.
Represented by the Project Manager, Skills Development Sector, Mr Fatai Osunsanya, Mrs. Owo-Odusi said, so many students are dying in silence because they don’t have the right channel to express themselves when abused.
She therefore assured that the sensitisation visits will bridge the existing gap, break learners silence and bring violence to a stop in schools.
Also speaking at the event, the Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Prof. Abayomi Arigbabu, represented by the Director, Education Support Services, Mrs. Bamidele Makinde revealed that the sensitisation visit to Ijebu bloc was the fourth phase of the awareness and sensitization campaign initiative.
He added that the team had earlier visited Egba, Remo and Yewa blocs during the first, second and third phases respectively.
Prof. Arigbabu said for gender-based violence to stop, the students also have their part to play.
He therefore encouraged them not to hesitate to make use of the access numbers of the assault referral centres and speak out when abused or harassed assuring that their identities would never be disclosed while social, legal, medical and security services would be provided for them within 24 hours at no cost.
While sharing practical experience with the students, a gender-based specialist who doubles as OGSTEP Team Leader, Mrs. EwaJesu Fasina also enjoined them to speak out in the case of any form of abuse, rape, or domestic violence.
She said this in necessary because most harassers try to first intimidate and threaten survivors not to speak out.
She added that the Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun is not paying lip service towards the protection of the rights of the younger ones in the State.
She noted that the Abiodun’s administration has made services of Psycho-Social Counsellors, Lawyers, Doctors and Civil Defense Officers at the sexual and assault referral centres for survivors to access free of charge.
Mrs. Fasina also disclosed that there is a law to prosecute any adult who sleeps with anybody below the age of 18 in Ogun State.
She also cautioned the students against walking alone at night or dressing provocatively.
In addition, she warned the students not get involved in social vices, emphasising that any student found culpable would be remanded in the juvenile correctional home.
The Head, Sexual and Assault Referral Centres, Mrs. Toyin Orelaja while admonishing the students to take their destinies and future in their hands explained that an abused child is a dysfunctional adult, adding that a closed mouth is a closed destiny.
While appreciating the State government and the team for embarking on the project the Senior Boys of Ijebu-Ode Grammar School, Alaro Community High School, Odosenlu and Odopotu Community Grammar School, Masters Taiwo Adeyemi, Friday Ogede and Michael Oluwa and the Head Girl of Anglican Girls Grammar School, Ijebu-Ode, Miss Cornerstone Agbaoye said the initiative was an avenue for students to learn about how to handle sexual harassment, bullying and other forms of abuses.
The promised to lead by example by shunning negative social vices while encouraging other students to desist from gender-based violence.