Following the lock down of several states because of coronavirus, women and girls have been admonished to avoid places that are isolated during the period. Programme manager of Alliances for Africa, a non-governmental organisation, Blessing Duru, made the appeal in their sensitisation campaign against women abuse and baby factories in Imo State.
According to Duru, women and children are the worst hit during seasons of restriction on movement, as cases of rape and abuse skyrocket, saying lonely places should be avoided completely. She called on men and fathers to help protect women and children from predators who lurk in wait for “The slightest opportunity to abuse children especially girls”. Furthermore, she said during challenging times such as the lockdown season, the welfare of women and girls should not be treated with levity especially pregnant women and groups that were beforehand vulnerable.
According to her, available data and research from previous pandemics revealed that women and men are affected differently and the toll on pregnant women are more drastic as their condition already subjects them to hormonal imbalance making them vulnerable to spontaneous abortions, high blood pressure, morbidity and mortality. Duru said other vulnerable people are women in abusive marriages, women and girls in internally displaced camps, women on the streets, orphans, women and girls in baby factories, those from impoverished financial backgrounds, those in conflict communities and communities where atrocities are perpetrated without any significant intervention from law enforcement agents amongst others. She added that there are increased incidences of violence against women and girls during pandemics. Duru maintained that following the lock down, women are the worst hit as they lack avenues of fending for their children, as well as alternative escape routes to abuse.
She called on women and girls in Imo State to report any case of violence to Dr Blessing Azibuike, Director of Women Affairs, Ministry of Gender and Vulnerable Groups on 08033266707; Mrs Ukah Ukachi, State Coordinator, National Human Rights Commission 08039494207 or Chinomso Okechukwu, The Focal Person, Nigerian Feminist Forum on 08032406596.