Mrs Olufolake AbdulRasaq earlier said that gender-based violence is, at its root a manifestation of the relatively low status of women and girls in the society.
AbdulRasaq stated this on Saturday in her address after the “No tolerance against gender based violence walk” in Ilorin.
The walk which was aimed at commemorating the international day for the elimination of violence against women.
The first lady stressed that the event was to provide a global platform for action by governments, organizations and individuals to mobilize and draw attention to the urgent need for an end to gender based violence.
“Gender based violence comes in different forms and can be found in the family, community and in the society.
“It is an act of violence that results in or likely to result to physical, sexual or psychological harm or damages to the woman, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.
The most pervasive form of gender based violence against women is rape as it affects all women regardless of their ages, race, and culture or socio economic stature.
“While names and contexts may differ, women and girls universally experience rape, sexual abuse and violence at different times in their lives”, said the Kwara governor’s wife.
Mrs AbdulRasaq, who related the efforts of her office at ensuring that a 60 year-old man, who allegedly had carnal knowledge of a 4-year-old girl faced the consequences of the action, urged victims of violence to always speak up.
“These gender-based abuses are rooted mostly in our patriarchal beliefs, power and control that continue to create a social environment in which sexual violence is pervasive and normalized.
“Exact numbers of rape, sexual abuse and sexual assaults are usually very difficult to confirm due to frequent latitude and impunity of the perpetrators, stigma towards survivors and their subsequent silence.
“In the face of the alarming trend of these abuses however, the voices of survivors and activists through campaigns and advocacies such as this have put the spotlight on the issue such that it can no longer be ignored”, she said.
The sexual violence, according to her is often times perpetrated by people close to the survivor, like family members, close friends or a person of authority.
This, she asserted makes it very difficult to report the abuses as the survivors are met with words of shame and stigmatization.
She added that she had founded the Ajike people’s support center where indigent women and youths could access empowerment through vocational skills acquisition and girls through scholarships for their education.
“When women and girls can live free from violence and are afforded equal opportunities in education, healthcare, employment and political participation, they will lift up their families, communities and indeed the country.
“Ending gender based violence will certainly require empowering our women and girls to speak up for themselves and also encourage our men and boys to speak up and speak out for their mothers, wives, partners, sisters and daughters.
“To achieve the aforementioned however, there is the need for us to eschew all manners of abuse and gender based violence and to depart from the usual practice of treating cases of abuse with silence.
“Where incidents of abuse occur, the perpetrators should be made to face the consequences of their actions, while the survivor is provided with the needed help and counseling”, she said.
The governor’s wife assured that gathering that Ajike peoples support center would continue to ensure that the wellbeing of Kwara women, children and indeed all Kwarans would be of utmost importance to us.
She, however, submitted that it is a collective responsibility to ensure that all girls and women are free from rape and all forms of gender based violence.
Meanwhile, members of women professionals, artisan and political groups joined the first lady in the walk, that started from the state banquet hall through the Ahmadu Bello way to Mohammed Muritala way to Sulu-Gambari road and terminated at the Government House.