“For Nigeria and many other African countries to move forward, there needs to
be a shift in how boys and girls are socialized.”
– Josephine Effah – Chukwuma
A conversation with Mrs. Josephine Chukwuma about Abuse in Nigeria.
Esther, a young vibrant girl lives in the busy city of Lagos that never sleeps. While others chase their dreams and enjoy all that the city has to offer Esther finds herself locked up, abused, neglected and raped. Sadly, Esther is one of the 28% of women in Nigeria who have experienced some sort of physical violence.
In the midst of this wave of abuse, Mrs. Josephine Chukwuma is one of the brave women leading the fight on violence against women in Nigeria. We sat down to talk to Mrs. Chukwuma. Throughout this interview we try to figure out the major issues facing the fight on violence against women in Nigeria.
About Josephine Chukwuma and Project Alert
Mrs. Josephine Chukwuma is a well-seasoned advocate for women who have been victims of violence. She is the founder and executive director of Project Alert Nigeria, an NGO set up to advocate, protect and promote the rights of women and young girls in Nigeria. Project Alert opened the first shelter for victims of violence in Nigeria and for over a decade have been working with schools, the government and the community to make violence against women an issue of the past.
“You cannot deal with a problem you can’t first diagnose.”
Just like many courageous fighters around the world, Mrs. Chukwuma set up Project Alert from an identified need. Mrs. Chukwuma boldly stated that there was “a gap in terms of response and acknowledging the prevalence of violence against women and girls in Nigeria, resulting to a poor response.” Further addressing the concern of the lack of information and statistics on violence against women in Nigeria, she gave a simple analysis to understand the problem; “You cannot deal with a problem you can’t first diagnose.”
Project Alert has established itself “to promote and protect the rights of women and young girls in Nigeria.” The two mains goals; promoting and advocacy first and providing basic protection services.
“To promote and protect the rights of women and young girls in Nigeria, there must be two mains goals; promoting and advocacy first and providing basic protection services.”
As one would marvel about the wonderful work Project Alert is doing, there was one part of the puzzle that remained unsettling. With new regulations and laws supporting women, and more activists rising why was violence against women and girls still a major issue in the 21st century? Why are young women today still subject to the same violence experienced by their grandmothers, mothers and aunts?
Mrs. Chukwuma weighs in on this and equally comments that “indeed Nigeria is a patriarchal society, where a girl from birth passes from the hands of the father, to the hands of the brother to the hands of the husband and then the hands of the son.” The socialization pattern and cultural practices, religious interpretation and manipulation all come together to aid the situation.” For Nigeria and many other African countries to move forward, there needs to be a shift in how boys and girls are socialized.
“You can only be treated the way you allow yourself to be treated.”
As the interview gradually came to an end, Mrs. Chukwuma concluded by sharing her next steps and final words to young women in Nigeria and around the world. Also recognizing the lack of information about the issue of violence against women in Nigeria. She shares she plans on taking time off next year to document her experiences of over a decade in dealing with the issue of violence against women. “One of the major problem she says is; history is not being told, and the young ones do not understand the battle behind the benefits being enjoyed today.”
For the young ladies, Mrs. Chukwuma wants you to be yourself. “You can only be treated the way you allow yourself to be treated.”
As always, remember to say no to abuse.