Men experiencing gender-based violence have been advised to speak up and eschew the culture of silence that could cause them to become a suicide case.
A Public Health Expert, Dr Matthew Okoh said speaking up against gender-based discrimination would also help to combat violations of human rights and life-threatening health conditions.
He made the appeal on Friday during a youth dialogue webinar in commemoration of the 2023 16 days of activism against GBV, themed, “Unite,” organised by the Centre for Communication and Social Impact tagged, ‘Voices against GBV’.
He said, “It is easier for a female to report issues of violence against them compared to men because of several reasons. Chief among these is society’s expectation, where men are told to be tough and appear invincible. So admitting that they have suffered violence of any kind, will make them appear to be falling short of that expectation of society.
“Expressing your vulnerability, undoubtedly, is a significant barrier because no one wants to be seen as being weak because of society. This has greatly contributed to the reason why there are little to no statistics on GBV against men.
“Men are most likely to die by suicide because they are not able to express what’s on their mind and that’s because society has made them feel about who a man is and what a man should or should not do.”
Okoh noted that there is a need to break the societal norms that silence male voices in the discourse on GBV.
He added, “Now, so what can we do to change this scenario? How can we move this forward? One, we need to encourage men to begin to speak up about violence against them, by addressing societal norms that tend to keep men from speaking up. We need to reduce the stigma associated with men who come out to express what has happened to them by creating a supportive environment that can encourage men to speak out.”
The Executive Director of CCSI, Fagbemi, emphasised that GBV is a pervasive issue that demands a unified response.
“GBV is everyone’s problem; therefore, we must approach the solution in the same manner. It doesn’t discriminate against race, tribe, colour, or class, everyone is affected. So sometimes I wonder why we even made 16 days of activism set aside when every day should be dedicated to making sure that no one suffers from GBV
“According to the World Health Organisation, globally, one in three women has been subjected to either physical or sexual violence, and in Nigeria, one out of 10 women aged 15 to 49 have suffered sexual assault at least once in their lifetime, and I would like to invite you to speak up,” she said.
Executive Director of the Dorothy Njemanze Foundation, Dorothy Njemanze underscored the need for collective action to stem GBV and advocated comprehensive support for survivors of GBV and a framework that extends beyond immediate crisis intervention.
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