The Christian Council of Nigeria, CCN, has urged faith-based organisations to eliminate practices advancing any form of Violence Against Women and Girls, (VAWG) in the systems of worship.
The President of CCN, Most Reverend Benebo Fubara-Manuel made the call during the opening ceremony of a one-week sensitization on campaign for theologians organised in collaboration with UNICEF under the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative in Calabar, Cross River State, south-south Nigeria.
Fubara-Manuel, who is also the Vice President of the Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in West Africa, admitted that religious leaders were part of the problem and should be involved in finding lasting solutions to VAWG.
According to Fubara Manuel, “Violence Against Women and Girls is a real evil confronting all communities in our country. We admit that it happens in our homes, institutions, religious organizations. But, we shall expose all forms of violence against women and girls.”
He further explained that “The political and social systems are not skewed in the favor of women and girls but rather against them. The religious systems worsen their plight even when claiming to be the agents of liberation. We regret all these and set ourselves on the path of change.
“We commit, therefore, to directly, personally and communally oppose all systems of marginalization that we have inherited or set up or that we are presently designing or setting up. We commit to promoting practices and establishing institutions that would allow women and girls to flourish in all ways –spiritually, physically, sexually, emotionally, and psychologically,” he pledged.
The CCN President vowed, “We reject and condemn anyone, who in the name of religion, sends women and girls on suicide missions; pulls girls out of their homes and schools and then camps them to be used as sex slaves and enslaved in forced marriages. We condemn the rape of infant girls for ritual and selfish purposes.”
He explained, “We shall engage in mass street rallies and meet with significant political and government figures who can initiate positive changes in this regard. We shall hand out fliers and stickers that would send out our messages and pray that by the grace of God we shall see an age in which violence against children is ended.”
Also speaking, the General Secretary of the council, Evens Onyemara disclosed that a code of conduct handout on VAWG would be distributed to religious leaders and other stakeholders across three local government areas in Cross River State.
Onyemara said that Calabar Municipal, Calabar South and Obanliku were selected for the sensitization programme to change people’s perspective on the girl-child and women.
He remarked, “We expect a positive change in attitude and approach. We challenge pastors to preach against these evil acts going on in our society and show that the church also cares for the wellbeing of women and girls.”
On her part, the National Coordinator of EVAWG, Elder Uzoaku Williams, said, that UNICEF, through the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative, was identifying with various stakeholders such as the Muslim communities, Christians, security agencies on areas where we suspect abuse, discrimination and all forms of gender injustice.
“We are also engaging with community leaders, going on visits to schools to sensitize children. But here, we are meeting with theological leaders, those who train pastors and Sunday school teachers, especially those that teach children, who spend time with these children as peer educators; we want them to join us because we cannot do it alone.” She stressed.
The rallies would be held in selected locations within the three local government areas in Cross River State.
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