• Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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EU, UNDP use movie, ‘Deafening Silence’, to boost fight against SGBV

EU, UNDP use movie, ‘Deafening Silence’, to boost fight against SGBV

As part of its Spotlight Initiative interventions on sexual-gender-based violence (SGBV), the European Union (EU), in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), recently premiered the movie ‘Deafening Silence’ in Lagos.

The film, starring Nollywood actors Kate Henshaw, Bimbo Akintola, Chidi Mokeme, Daniel Etim-Effiong, Femi Jacobs among others, highlights various aspects of sexual-gender-based violence, including sexual harassment, child abuse, and the importance of raising boys to respect women.

Speaking at the movie premiere at Ebonylife, Victoria Island, Lagos, Samuela Isopi, EU Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, who was represented by Ruben Alba Aguilera, Head of Governance, Gender Human Rights and Migration Section at the EU Delegation, said, “What we want to achieve is basically to raise awareness and to make sure that we reach out to every corner of Nigeria to break the silence and to open a debate about the effects of gender-based violence and trying to bring change”.

According to Aguilera, the Spotlight Initiative is the EU and UN’s largest investment tool for preventing sexual-gender-based violence. Launched in 2019, the programme concluded in 2023 but plans to maintain momentum with new initiatives.

Over N1 billion has been invested in the programme, resulting in the establishment of 41 Sexual Assault Referral Centres across 20 states in Nigeria, providing support and legal aid to victims. A major milestone is the creation of a special court for prosecuting offenders.

Despite global attention, Nigeria continues to report rising cases of sexual-gender-based violence. The Federal Ministry of Women Affairs disclosed last year that the country recorded 27,698 cases between 2020 and 2023.

Aguilera believes many cases in Nigeria are underreported.

“Part of the effort has been to put light on this issue and to make sure that victims don’t feel afraid to speak up and also to make sure they have access to legal means to address their problems. The more we talk about it, the more we realise, and the more we’ll learn about the magnitude of the problem. And by talking about it, I think the society will also realise and the new generation, particularly the younger men will be more exposed and more aware and realise that it’s not okay to use violence on our mothers, daughters, or sisters,” Aguilera said.

With ‘Deafening Silence,’ the EU aims to spread the message to every Nigerian household.

“Change is possible. By leveraging the creative industries and the power of Nollywood, we want to reach every family, every household, and every corner of Nigeria. We want people to speak up and question the status quo,” Aguilera added.

‘Deafening Silence’ will be screened for free in select cinemas in Nigeria, with plans for a mini TV series and another production on Netflix.

“We are planting seeds of change. By reaching a wide audience and sparking debate, we aim to make a significant impact. If every family watches the movie or series and discusses the role of women in society and the unacceptability of violence, we are making a huge difference,” he concluded.