The culture of silence surrounding sexual issues and deeply entrenched socio-cultural norms especially in grassroots communities in Nigeria continue to lead to increased vulnerability of children to acts of sexual violence especially for the girl child. This ignorance and beliefs have continued to provide the enabling environment for perpetrators to abuse children with impunity because they know they will get away with it while abused children continue to suffer under the burden of silence to avoid the stigma and shame that comes with victim blaming. This presentation will showcase the model of mobilizing traditional and community leaders to take action to break the silence and address child sexual abuse. Vulnerable children and adolescents are also targeted and trained as peer educators to speak out against exploitation and abuse as agents of change in their schools and communities.
Working with grassroots communities in an African setting that is hugely patriarchal and views all discussions about sex as a taboo is very challenging. Participants at the workshop will therefore learn strategies that have been tried and has worked in achieving results in this area. This model can also be adapted to address various other issues and violations against children in these settings.