Technology can be used as a tool to fight violence against women during elections, a Non-governmental Organisation, Stand To End Rape Initiative, has noted.
It said that gender related abuses threaten the integrity of electoral and democratic processes.
Consequently, the initiative called on national and state governments and communities to leverage technology with the use of platforms or mobile applications to report or track incidences of violence during elections.
“The electoral process in Nigeria is not free from violence and women face significant gender-based vulnerabilities”, the Executive Director of STER, Ayodeji Osowobi, said on Thursday at a press conference in Abuja where they unveiled a research survey on violence against women in the political space.
She informed that Nigeria experienced more political violence than it had during its previous election cycle in 2011, “when over 1000 fatalities were reported”.
The survey was conducted across six states—Cross River, Enugu, Osun, Gombe, Kogi and Zamfara in the six geopolitical zones with National Youth Service Corps adhoc staff, female relatives of a politician, female citizens with the right to vote etc as respondents.
Physical harm during elections
From the survey, Osun State had more reports of cases of infliction of injuries or bodily harm.
“50 per cent of respondents in Osun state who are active participants in the political space reported to having injuries inflicted on them as a result of their participation in the election process and having threats of divorce from their spouses.
“Furthermore, 67 per cent of respondents in Osun state said they were raped as a result of their relatives’ involvement in politics”, Osowobi said.
Destroyed properties, Corp members affected
About 83 per cent of respondents in Osun State, 61 per cent in Gombe and 40 per cent of respondents in Cross River reported having their properties destroyed due to their familial affiliation to a politician.
The survey also identified electoral ad-hoc staff particularly corps members of the National Youth Service Corps.
“About 11 per cent of them reported that they have either been raped or sexually harassed based on their involvement in the electoral process.
“Similarly, about 21 per cent of the Corps members revealed that violence has been perpetuated against them by law enforcement officials as a result of their affiliations with Electoral management agencies”, the official said.
Consequently, Ms Osowobi said the NGO partnered with other organisations to produce a mobile application called Kasala which is used to document on-time reports of violence in the electoral processes.
“When you click on a particular button, we immediately get notified and we can collaborate with partners on ground to intervene”, she said.
For state actors, the organisation requested adequate security, welfare and logistics to be provided for Corps members and adhc staff involved in Election duties.
Purpose of project
She said this initiative was created following her personal experience as a corps member in 2011 when the community where she served sent a resident to rape her for refusing bribe from their preferred politician.
Another representative of STER, Faith Adeniyi, at the event called on technological companies to collaborate and and produce platforms that can track perpertuators of violence against women during Electoral processes.
This, she noted, will prevent others from following the same path.
Also present at the event, Action Aid Nigeria’s Manager for Women’s Rights, Nkechi Ilochi-Omekedo, noted that the project will hold government and political parties to account to ensure that the political scene is safe for women.
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