Social Media Training in Nigeria leads to Campaign against Violence

July 2, 2012

We carried out social media training for human rights groups in Nigeria in mid-May.  One of the workshop participants was an elderly female lawyer, Saudatu Mahdi (who heads up WRAPA a women’s rights organisation and LACVAW, a coalition of 70 rights organisations), she had never used social media but was not shy about asking numerous questions (“what’s the difference between Twitter and YouTube?”) and took diligent notes.  After the training, she approached us with a leaflet in hand.  It was an one pager, stating violence in Nigeria facts and showing very graphic photos of victims of violence.  This was their advocacy material for communicating the urgency of a Bill criminalising violence against persons in Nigeria. We silently stared at the photos while she also dug out from her phone a photo of a woman who had been gang raped and ripped up from her navel to her back.  She said this was all the material they had and that now they had also been told they were not allowed to show that photo, that it was distasteful.  She said that though she had never used social media, she now could see that these tools could be very effective in raising awareness of the Bill.

She then told us more about the Bill, how they have have worked for 10 years to get a comprehensive law passed by National Assembly legislators which criminalises sexual and physical violence agains women and girls, and that it had been rejected/failed to pass twice, both in 2010, and again in 2011.  The coalition then undertook a process to harmonised several laws in to a Violence Against Persons Prohibition Bill (the ‘persons’ term making it less “controversial”), which is being processed by the National Assembly next week (6 July).  They have 5 legislators on board and need 120 for the Bill to pass.

We immediately offered our free support in mobilising public support for the Bill in Nigeria and globally through social media, and in raising awareness of the extent of violence against women/persons in Nigeria. We have had very little resources and time (one week!)  but have build this below listed campaign site and online/social media sharing mechanism, as well as a ‘My Nigerian Family Album’ board on Pinterest. We needed to take in to account that many of LACVAWs members are not in social media while also recognising that there are several million social media users in Nigeria.  LACVAW also hope to raise global awareness about this issue.