West African Action Network on Small Arms(WAANSA,) has taken its awareness and sensitization campaigns against the use of small arms to school children in The Fariah Academy in Abuja, Nigerian’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The programme which held on Wednesday, as part of WAANSA’s, 16 days activism against Gender-Based Gun Violence had the team:”Speak out Against Gender-Based Gun Violence.”
WAANSA’s First Regional Vice President, Dickson Orji said in a chat with journalists after the event that unlike the popular perception, the issue of violence cuts across women, men, young and old and not women alone.
He said arms have been used to perpetrate violence and rape against women and girls.
He said the event was to bring to the fore, the issue of Gender-Based Gun Violence which has seen many men and women sent to their early graves.
“We have 16 days event to bring to the front burner issue of gun-based gender violence.
Most often, when you talk about Gender-Based Violence, everybody refers to women. We are keen to bring this issue to National discuss so that issues relating to gender-based violence will be addressed at the highest level,” he said.
Orji said: “When there is conflict and there is a war, the men die there in the war but they leave women behind and they leave their children to suffer a lot of humiliating practices and economic hardship.”
“But for me, we should begin to think of how to keep these men alive for their wives and family. That means both men and women should be protected to remain alive with their family and how to do this is by reducing violence, especially gun violence.”
The Regional Vice President said the sensitization campaign at the school was to catch them young by teaching the younger generation about the danger of carrying arms, to disabused them from carrying arms in the future.
“It is easier to prepare the youth than repair adults. Some adults are already lost cases but for these young ones, we need to build their knowledge space. They need to understand that it is dangerous to toy with a gun.
It may surprise you that in primary schools and secondary schools, there is cultism and then in our tertiary institution is a place where guns flow freely.”
“So we need to teach those young ones now that guns don’t solve any problem but will only endanger them the more. So, if the grow up with that, then the tendency for them not to carry arms will be much higher,” he said.]
Also speaking with journalists, the Executive Director of Adinya Foundation, Mabel Adinya Ade lamented that children, girls and women have been raped at gunmen and killed.
She said women have been raped at gunpoint during violent conflict, impregnated, only to disowned by their husbands, living them in a traumatized state.
“This is how much gun has devasted. The case is very bad in Nigeria. It is time for our children to begin to speak about Gender-based gun violence against women because we have been speaking and nobody listens to us. Perhaps, when children begin to speak they will hear,” said
Adinya who is a member of the International Action Network on Small Arms(IANSA).
In a goodwill message, the Country Director of Christain aid Nigeria, Charles Uche urged the school children to speak out if they know or see anyone having any form of a gun, “so that they don’t use it to harm anybody.”
“As a boy or girl, you are not permitted to commit any kind of violence against girls or women. Don’t in any way cause pain or harm to any girl,” he said.
The highpoints of the event was engagement with the children to sensitize them about arms and the dangers of using them by the Regional Vice President of WAANSA.
The event also featured presentations from the children who through colourful placards bearing various inscriptions, drove home key campaign messages against rape, gender-based violence and the use of arms.
The children spoke on the Nigerian of their dream which is a country free from rape, all forms of gender-based violence among others.
Furthermore, the event featured the presentation of gifts to participating children.