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Valentine’s Day: SGBV Group Stages “Walk For Love”, Cautions Against Violence in AKS

It is love season today, February 14, as thousands of people will intentionally express their affection for their loved ones in the most romantic way possible. It is in this light that the Coalition Against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) group staged a ‘Love for Walk’  yesterday, Tuesday, February 13, to guide against indiscriminate abuses among love birds.

The demonstration, which was tagged “Love No Be Fight, was held at Ibom Plaza under the coalition of SGBV. It attracted various non-governmental organisations in Akwa Ibom State with different placards to sensitise the public on the need to prioritise their safety and well-being as they celebrate Valentine’s season.

Speaking on the ills of gender-based violence during the Valentine period, the Secretary of Akwa Ibom State Management Committee, Barr. Emem Ette, expressed displeasure over the spike of domestic violence that occurs during the 14th night, breaking the 15th night among couples in the state.

In her words, “We found out over the years that the day before or during Valentine’s Day, we often receive a lot of calls from people who are in distress; either they are being battered or inflicted with injury by their partners, or there are many other cases of domestic violence.

“It is on this note that the Akwa Ibom State Gender-Based Violence Management Committee is mandated by the state government to coordinate response to GBV issues in the state by staging this ‘Walk for Love’ to call people’s attention to the ills of gender-based violence.

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“Yes, we know it is love season, a season where people show love, but we are advising people to love responsibly. People should love wisely to avoid Akwa Ibom State recording any number of casualties this love season.”

Barr Emem Ette also admonished young girls to protect themselves against social media lovers who often use Valentine’s Day to carry out their illicit actions.

“We are calling on our young ones who are susceptible to abuse to love wisely by knowing who they are going out with and telling their loved ones the person’s location, address, and phone number so that if anything happens, we know where to start looking for them.

“I know people find their spouse online, but we have to be responsible when accessing social media.”

Comrade Uduak Ekong, who is a media practitioner and the Chairperson of the AKBC Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Akwa Ibom State chapter, gave her thoughts on the love season.

“I am not a lawyer but have read severally that over the years during Valentine’s period, there has been a spike in cases of violence, and this makes the ‘Walk for Love’, very timely and apt, coming a day before Valentine’s Day.

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“The purpose of the demonstration is to sensitise people that love is not violent, but unfortunately, these days, we hear a lot of bizarre things happening, like organs being harvested and corpses found with certain vital parts missing, and so this sensitisation is truly to remind women who love freebies to carry what we call “vex money” so they won’t get into trouble.”

The Chairperson also advised women to show their men love by getting them affordable gifts and to understand the economic hardship and the fact that most men are” under double or triple pressure to do more than they can afford.”

Also lending her voice on the need for people to prioritise their safety during this love season, the co-founder of Women in Mediation Network, WiMNet, Barr Uduak Udofia, noted that there is often a high rise of intimate partner violence (IPV),  and the ‘Walk for Love’ demonstration is a call for people to have zero tolerance for GBV.

“Due to the high rise of intimate partner violence, we at WiMNet joined the coalition against SGBV in Akwa Ibom State to lend our voice to the fact that there should be no violence in love, no violence in intimate partnerships, and GBV should not be condoned during this Valentine’s Day period.”

A team leader from the Foundation for Justice, Development, and Peace, Mr. David Kusuv, spoke on the infringement of human rights during the love season.

“Valentine’s Day is the day to share love, but unfortunately, people who are enemies of freedom decide to turn the season into violence and abuse.

“Love shouldn’t be a fight; it shouldn’t be a force, but mutual agreement and respect. In all they do, let there be consciousness of humanity.”

Delightfully, the “Walk for Love” demonstration rolled out profound and interesting messages for public consumption, and some of them included: “Instead of violence, go to church; it is Ash Wednesday”, “If you find your boo with another boo, go home! Love no be fight”, “If you are violent in nature, be your val”, “I dey come, no be location! Tell person where you dey”.

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