The Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF) held its third annual advocacy March to raise awareness against Gender-based Violence in Nigeria, to commemorate the UN 16 Days of Activism for Gender Based Violence as well as their 5th year anniversary.
The march was held on Saturday, the 4th of December across 5 continents in 5 cities – Lagos, London, New York, Sydney and Bangkok. Participants and supporters came out in great numbers, meeting at the various designated locations in these 5 participating cities to march in unison against sexual violence.
In Lagos, the march was across the Lekki/Ikoyi link bridge. It was kicked off by the First Lady of Lagos State, Dr Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu who commended the organization and encouraged survivors to come forward so that perpetrators could be punished. She stated steps to take after a sexual assault incident and encouraged everyone present to continue to continue the fight against gender based violence.
United States Consular General to Lagos, Madam Claire Pierangelo delivered the opening address where she stated that Gender based violence was not a problem for women but a global problem, she mentioned that every single one of us had a role to play in eradicating gender based violence. Speaking on the importance of the march, the Founder of the WARIF, Dr Kemi DaSilva stated that,
“Survivors are ostracized and scared to speak out because of the culture of shame, every survivor deserves the right to have her voice heard , to be given safe platforms to do so and to receive the support and assistance from her family , friends and her community to help her on the journey to recovery.”
She also said that proceeds from the march would benefit survivors of rape and sexual violence who are offered Free forensic medical examinations and treatment; as well as counselling services and welfare assistance with shelter, legal aid and vocational skills acquisition at the WARIF Rape Crisis Centre.
Also in attendance were the First Lady of Ogun State, Her Excellency, Mrs. Bamidele Abiodun, The Deputy British High Commissioner, Mr Ben Llewelyn-Jones as well as Nigerian Celebrities including Falz, Rita Dominic, Chioma Akpotha, Lala Akindoju, Zainab Balogun, Lamide Akintobi, Princess Comedian and Adetoun who raised their voices against rape and sexual violence in our communities.
Sponsorship for the March was by the WARIF in-house counsel and partner Templars Law firm, US Consulate, Amnesty International, Global Citizen, Reddington Hospital, Nigerian Breweries, MedPlus, May & Baker, Beat Fm, Angel Hospitality, Quest and XII Glover.
Gender based Violence is the most pervasive form of a human rights violation affecting men and women and all nations across the world ; the “No Tolerance” March is a recognized annual event that will be held globally as a movement to say NO! Tolerance to violence against women and girls in all communities.