Ekiti: Govt, CSO caution project contractors against sexual exploitation

Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti

In a bid to ensure a robust implementation of Gender Based Violence (GBV) laws in Ekiti State, the State Government and a Civil Society Organisation(CSO), Gender Relevance Promotion Initiative (GRIP), have advised contractors handling projects in the State to warn their workers against sexual exploitation.

They said available statistics globally confirm the high incidence of sexual harassment and exploitative practices in areas where construction projects are undertaken, saying this calls for a proactive steps to avert such abuses in Ekiti owing to a series of contracts being currently executed in the State.

The caution comes as Governor Kayode Fayemi ordered the deployment of GBV enforcement officers to Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the State Government to ensure compliance with the laws to reduce sexual abuse and violence.

Commissioner for Information Aare Muyiwa Olumilua, and GRIP Executive Director Mrs Rita Ilevbare gave the admonition in Ado-Ekiti on Friday at a one day training worksop entitled “GVB/ Sexual Exploitation and Abuse on the Third National Urban Water Sector Reform Projects (NUWSRP 3)”.

Speaking at the event organised by GRIP in collaboration with Ekiti State Water Corporation, Ilevbare said the time had come for stakeholders to unite against sexual harassment, female genital mutilation, child trafficking, slavery, prostitution and other social scourges.

Ilevbare added that government and the World Bank’s huge investment in water provision in Ekiti can put pressure on both the services and the people living in the project area, leading to negative outcomes, which she said must be prevented from happening.

‘It is important, therefore, that in the effort to provide safe water to people in Ekiti State, risks that labour influx will induce, including the negative gender impacts, sexual exploitation and abuse, are anticipated and measures to address these are incorporated into the project planning and implementation.

‘An influx of workers to the water project sites can create new demand for various services, including sex workers, which can ultimately increase the prevalence of sexual exploitation, Gender Based Violence (GBV), trafficking and disease transmission, especially HIV/AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases,’ Ilevbare said.

Also speaking, Information Commissioner Muyiwa Olumilua, represented by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Dr Adekumbi Obaisi, said the government would not tolerate or cover up any matter related to
sexual abuse or gender inequality.

‘To underscore how serious we are, there are designated officers in all Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government to implement GBV and equal opportunities laws, 2020,’ Olumilua said.

‘People should expose GBV defaulters. You could all attest to the fact that Governor Fayemi’s government has been shaming sexual offenders. Defaulters now suffer life imprisonment in Ekiti, this shows that Ekiti has zero tolerance for Gender violence.’

The State’s Coordinator of NUWSRP 3, Engr Olukunle Siwoku, represented by NUWSRP 3 Social Safeguard specialist, Mr Akinsola Oladipo, and Environmental Safeguard Specialist, Eric Odinakachi, said the World Bank had instructured that every humanitarian project should be executed in a manner that won’t violate the citizens’ rights.

Siwoku said: ‘That was why we established public complaints offices immediately we began water reticulation project in Ado Ekiti metropolis for whoever has issue with our workers to lodge their complaints. We also guard our labourers against action like rape, financial exploitation, threat and drunkiness to give bite to GBV in Ekiti.’

Reference: NAN, Sunnewsonline

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