Lagos DSVA trains Religious Counsellors On SGBV Prevention and Response

The Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency, DSVA has commenced training  of religious Counsellors on Sexual and Gender Based Violence.

This initiative, which is in partnership with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Christian Association of Nigeria was borne out of the fact that the State recognises the indispensable role the religious institutions play in shaping belief, confronting norms and will continue to enhance their reservoir of knowledge to become better advocates for change within their respective communities.

Executive Secretary, Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency, Mrs. Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi mentioned that domestic and  sexual violence in marriage is spreading its tentacles and demands collective attention to combat, stressing that the state government remains resolute to safeguard the sanctity of every individual, regardless of gender or background.

According to her “We know that religion plays a huge role in shaping mindset, directing behaviours and we also know the role of the religious clerics as well as the role marriage counsellors in different religious institutions play in promoting and discouraging perpetration of Sexual and Gender-Based violence.”

“We thought it is expedient to bring them together, enlighten them about various forms of sexual and gender-based acts and equip them with skills as they go about their counselling duties, either during pre Counselling for intending couples  or post Counselling for  married couples.”

The data from the office reveals that at least 60 percent of the survivors of gender-based violence have previously reported to their religious clerics before reporting to the agency and sometimes they deploy mediation as a form of alternative dispute resolution and yet the issue persisted. It has therefore become compelling to build capacity of  counselors in the religious institutions to be able to counsel appropriately and know when to refer cases accordingly. 

 More importantly, this program is designed to infuse key issues such as psychometric tests to assess compatibility, red flags, coping mechanisms , love codes and other relevant topics into the pre marital Counselling offered by religious bodies for intending couples. 

Resource facilitator at the training and CEO Praise Fowowe Ltd, Mrs. Motolani Falabi, emphasised the need for the individuals going into marriage to understanding their identities and what a marriage is, before picking up that responsibility and ensuring they know the building blocks to have a successful marriage.

Falabi added that the role of the counselors is to ensure that they teach the prospective couple not based on culture, religion, or native intelligence, but must be done professionally and people that will be engaging them are better equipped and not working based on culture.

She said “The future of the society is at the mercy of our marriage and the couple must have someone that can mentor them. So, marriage must have a vision, value, and focus which invariably will determine the kind of children that will be churned out into the society. 

Family is the production factory of the society the and future of our world rests on good parenting and if we get it right, then, we can have a better world.”

The over 50 religious marriage counsellors  appreciated the state government for bringing to the fore issues that will make swift prevention and response to sexual violence in marriage, particularly how marriage counselors can confront and restore peace to homes.

They emphasized the need to intensify advocacy on premarital engagement by professional counselors and be able to build the seemingly poor marital understanding that is affecting most marriages today.

Adejoke Ladenegan-Oginni



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