Nigeria is a country of over 200 million people. This fact is ably represented in Lagos, the most populous state in Nigeria. Lagos is the land of dreams and is home to every people group because it’s the Economic Capital. The official figure for Lagos state population is 20 million. In 2016, a city of 20 million recorded162 192 cases of rape (Pulse Ng, Vanguard News). Even the government acknowledged that this was a problem because that figure does not aptly represent the state of the country. Lagos is the centre of excellence, so whatever happens in Lagos, represents the best of Nigeria and it’s many years ahead of other states in Nigeria in terms of development. Our emergency response as a country leaves much to be desired and there is no guarantee that a person will have the courage to visit the police to report when they go through abuse. All this leaves us without a doubt that not enough people are reporting rape incidences and not enough people are getting help for it.
With our product, we hope to bridge the gap and make it easier for people to be able to report these incidences in a safe environment,
without fear of being stigmatised or being shamed. Currently, we do this through the use of a Chatbot where abuse survivors can either
be connected to a Counsellor who would help them go through the healing process or share their stories, which would be featured on our Social Media Pages. This serves to drive conversation and sensitize the society on the importance of creating a stigmafree environment and showing them another side of the story.
Eventually, we hope to connect Abuse survivors to legal services, so that they can pursue justice and the perpetrators can be brought to book. We also hope to run our chatbot someday on SMS platforms linked directly with Mobile Networks for low income areas. Right now, we host our bot on the Web and on Facebook. On a daily basis, our team thinks of ways to increase the publicity of our product to people.
People go through abuse and many times they keep it to themselves. Speaking to Counselors can be the first time a survivor reveals that they have actually been abused and the effect itself can be relieving for the survivor (Counselling directory.org). Having the first point of contact that is easily accessible, would help increase the number of people who have access to Counselors and eventually legal services, where these things would not have been previously readily accessible or would be shrouded in stigma, shame and mystery.
Also speaking to a professional Counselor is not a widely spread practice in Nigeria and not something that people would naturally going to a Counselor, we hope to change this with our sensitization.
What can you do?
- Spread the word about Biri.ng, chances are, if more people know that they can access help, they actually will.
- Be supportive of people who are brave enough to share their stories.
- Don’t turn a blind eye if you have the power to intervene without endangering your life in a situation of abuse. report to the police, report to an elder, don’t observe in silence.
- Spread the word about domestic violence and abuse. It is not okay for a Man to beat his wife (an example that is highly prevalent in our society.
- Be the change you want to see.
I hope we would all take action and make Nigeria a safer place.