They made the call on Thursday while commemorating the 2021 International Day of the Girl-Child and stage adaptation of a novel, “The Cost of Silence,” written by Mrs Ibukunoluwa Otesile, Founder, HOSEC Foundation in Abuja.
Otesile, said the adaptation of the novel into a drama by students of Government Science Technical College, Garki was to amplify the need to eliminate all forms of violence against women and children and to break the barrier of silence.
“One of the tools that we used is preventive education and I authored “The Cost of Silence” talks about domestic violence, sexual and drug abuse and how all these three are endangered by the cost of silence.
“The culture of silence is one of the things that has continued to endanger violence against women and children in Nigeria.
“It has made it difficult for the tools that the government has put in place to actually work.
“So if, we as a people do not consent it and speak out against it, when it happens. There is nothing that the government can do about it.
” It goes beyond just having those instruments or those laws, we as a people must criminalise every form of violence against women and children, particularly sexual violence so that we don’t have situations where they will say we will go and settle in the family,” she said.
According to her, about 132 secondary school students from 12 schools within the six LGAs in the FCT participated in the mentoring and sensitisation session on all forms of abuse and harmful practices affecting women and children.
Also, Mrs Hadiza Ingawa, Head, Gender Unit, FCT Education Secretariat, encouraged the public to speak out when faced or witness any form of violence against women and children.
Ingawa, also encouraged girls to venture into Science, Technical, Engineering and Mathematics ( STEM) courses to equip them with skills that will address challenges in line with the digital age.
On his part, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), represented by Mr Sam Agbi, Director, Performing Arts, encouraged the girl-child to strive towards excelling in academics, politics, entrepreneurship and others.
Similarly, Emmanuel Babayaro, a former International footballer, advised parents to establish relationships with their children that will encourage them to confide, when faced with sexual or any form of abuse.
Ms Geraldine Ogunyide, representing UBEC urged the students to utilise opportunities given to access education to enable them to succeed and be less vulnerable to any form of abuse. (NAN)