It was a positive strike against gender-based violence at Olapeju Ibekwe’s ‘Chatroom’ premiere recently in Lagos.
‘Chatroom’ is a 98-minute movie that tells the inspiring story of Ebiere, a young, unassuming lady who enters a dance reality TV show to escape the haunting experience of her past. The experiences in the house turn the table on her, causing national chaos.
Speaking at the event, Ibekwe said the movie project, which started some years ago, was inspired by the true-life story of a living person.
She urged more survivors of gender-based violence to break the silence and speak up about their situations for the benefit of others. She added, “we wanted to create a story that would give people hope; to let us know that things happen, but we don’t have to wallow in the mud, and that was the beginning of ‘Chatroom’. The movie is available on www.afrocinema.tv and can be watched anywhere. “
Ibekwe also disclosed that a virtual chatroom had been established on the movie website, www.chatroomthemovie.com, which will be a safe place for survivors where trained counsellors can help them.
The virtual chatroom is supported by the Nigerian Institute of Counsellors and WARIF (Women at Risk International Foundation) alongside other partners. Survivors can log in as guests or anonymously and break their silence, which is the first step towards healing.
Speaking earlier, General Manager, Corporate and Investment Banking, Sterling Bank Plc, Mojisola Bakare, assured that the bank would continue to support women and young girls who have been victims of gender-based violence.
In a keynote speech, the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Pauline Tallen, represented by the Director of Gender Affairs, Mrs Friya Kimde Bulus, noted that available statistics showed one in three women and girls between ages 15 and 49 had experienced GBV. One in every five had experienced physical violence.
“Thirty-one per cent of women between ages 15 and 49 have experienced sexual assault, while six per cent of women have experienced an assault during pregnancy. These acts against women and girls are one of the most prevalent human rights violations today, “Tallen said.
She said the effects most women experience are depression, anxiety, and physical and emotional distress, which are psychologically damaging and can increase the risk of developing mental illness.
“GBV is not only a violation of women’s and girls’ rights, but the impunity enjoyed by perpetrators and the fear generated by their actions affects all women and girls,” she said.
Mrs Tallen said the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs launched a register to name and shame GBV perpetrators as part of measures to stem the tide. She said every partner and stakeholder should use the national GBV data collation tool to collate and submit GBV data to the ministry for effective coordination and planning.
She also disclosed that the ministry has set up a National Chief Security Officers Emergency Response Team to assist in bringing the spotlight to the initiative, while a toll-free line was also launched for the public to report on cases of rape and domestic assault.