Violence against women is a technical term referring to violent acts that are primarily or exclusively committed against women. Mrs. Josephine Effah-Chukwuma, Founder and President of Project Alert on Violence against Women sheds light on this type of violence targeting a specific group with the victim’s gender as a primary motive.

WOS: Violence against women is what most women never talk about, why is that?

Contrary to your statement, most women now speak out about the violence they and other family members and/or friends experience. silence used to be a weapon used to further perpetrate it, but years of advocacy work by organizations such as Project Alert, has brought the problem from under the ground, on to the surface. Combined factors such as shame, fear of stigmatization, threats, intimidation and lack of support services, for victims/survivors, use to make women, die in silence but things are fast changing.

WOS: The role of men be in speaking out against Domestic Violence against women?

Men have a great role to play in the fight to end all forms of violence against women/young girls. Violence against women does not only affect wives and girlfriends, but also mothers, sisters and daughters. No right thinking man, except one that is psychologically destabilized, would want his mother, sister or daughter physically or sexually abused. Thus men must unite with women to fight violence against women.

WOS: How stringent should the Laws on Domestic Violence be?

In my opinion domestic violence laws should be more stringent than criminal laws on assault, because of the issue of easy access. Domestic violence is easily executed than non-domestic violence. The reason for this is that both parties have both access to each other; and opportunity to strike (two factors that must be present for crime to occur).

WOS: Lets take you back to Sophia’s place, how did the vision come?

Sophia’s Place, which is Project Alert’s shelter for abused women/young girls, came into existence as a result of an identified need for a safe place for women/young girls suffering physical and sexual abuse in the family. Very early in the existence of Project Alert, we kept coming across women who were in abusive marriages and relationships, but did not know who or where to run to, thus we started thinking “how do we protect these women/girls?” Also concept of shelter is not alien to our culture, because traditionally, if a woman runs back to her family crying about maltreatment by her husband, she is given place to stay the night, while the husband is invited the next day for a discussion.

That act of accommodating for a night or two, is offering shelter. That is what we are offering abused women/young girls in an organized manner – a temporary safe place away from their abuser, that offers them time and space away, to reflect on their situation, while talking with a team of professionals such as counselllors, health workers and lawyers.

WOS: How bad can it get psychologically for women who face abuse?

Psychological abuse is actually much worse, because it is not immediately evident to the eye, and can be going on for years unnoticed, with the victim not seeking help, because she does not know how she would tell her story or what she would say.

WOS: Why would a woman decide to stay on in a marriage where they face abuse?

Women stay on in abusive marriages for various reasons such as the children; not wanting to be seen as failures – divorced/separated; no job; no money; no accommodation; against their religious believes etc. They however fail to realize, that they need to be alive and well, to be in marriage.

WOS: Share with us the most devastating case that has come to Project Alert.

There have been 3 devastating cases that have come to Project Alert in the 13 years of our existence. In all the cases, the women died at the hands of men they knew, married, loved and trust. They are the cases of Ego Osadebe, poured acid by her husband; Superintendent of Police Reginald Ononye, who threw is wife and mother of two little kids down their 3 stories apartment; and Akolade Arowolo who stabbed his wife Titi, a banker several times. these were devastating cases for me, to think that someone you love, would turn round to kill you, is simply unbelievable.