Dr. Eleanor Nwadinobi is the RSH Nigeria Hub Senior Advisor. She is a medical doctor and international health, women, peace and security, gender and human rights expert. Dr. Nwadinobi is also currently the President of the Medical Women's International Association (MWIA).
We want to make sure there is no Sexual Exploitation, no Sexual Abuse and no Sexual Harassment in the context of development and humanitarian work, she said referring to the commitment of the Safeguarding Resource and Support Hub (RSH).
The RSH has a multitude of resources, including an e-learning course and an Ask an Expert service, which can also support organisations to create their safeguarding policy. A safeguarding policy must be in place, Dr. Nwadinobi said, which guides the behaviour and practices of the entire organisation from its board to the volunteers.
“Exploitation happens when there is power and privilege, when one person has more money or position and uses that against someone, for example to extract sex for food,” she said. This may happen when somebody is vulnerable, for instance a person in a camp for Internally Displaced Persons. It can happen that an international organisation comes in to assist in a crisis but may end up doing harm.
People may be desperate for food but in the course of work the organisation may do harm by saying ‘I will not give you a food voucher unless you have sex with me’, Dr. Nwadinobi said.
"What we can do as individuals to stop violence against women?" asked host Sylvia Ishegbe. Everyone has a part to play and no one should be a bystander, Dr. Nwadinobi said.
“Every single day, 365 days of the year, should be a time for us to prioritise ending violence against women and girls,” Dr. Nwadinobi said. She added that one in three women and girls have suffered a form of violence, according to the World Health Organisation, and much of this violence remains untold and unseen because not all violence is physical.
If you see something, say something, she added and said that law reform and prevention education are equally important.
For instance, there have been harmful widowhood practices, like making a widow have her head shaved or drink the water used in bathing her deceased husband’s body. Some harmful practices have been banned due to the work of activists over time.
While the RSH does not offer services for assault survivors, there are Sexual Assault Referral Centres that victims can resort to. You can find an updated directory for such centres in Nigeria at this link.
The 16 Days of Activism campaign runs from 25 November 10 December, between the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and Human Rights Day. This year's topic was “Orange the world: End violence against women now!”