The African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Centre-LSD) has said that underage girls were being used as arms couriers and illegal mineral smugglers in the nation’s extractive sector .
The centre made the revelation yesterday in Abuja at the official close out of the centre’s build grant of the Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in the Extractive Sector in Nigeria.
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Executive Director, Centre-LSD, Mr. Monday Osasah, said that in the last six years, the centre had been working across the six geo-political zones including Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Nasarawa and Zamfara states.
Osasah the centre discovered lots of challenges around Gender Based Violence (GBV) yet there was no clear statistics to highlight it.
He said that the centre decided to carry out a research on GBV in the extractive sector in collaboration with the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) with grant from Ford Foundation.
“We decided to interact the system and structures that marginalised women in fully participating in the sector and put girls in danger in the extractive sector which included sexual abuse, domestic violence, threats among others.
“Like the research revealed there was the use of underage girls’ arms couriers and illegal mineral smugglers among others.
“So we engaged the system to create a policy document on GBV that can influence advocacy the National Assembly, and other relevant stakeholders.
“This is so that the existing law can be tinkered with to reflect the reality on ground.
“The research has helped Nigeria to have concrete data in the extractive industry,” he said.
Also, Dr. Akin Oke, the Lead Consultant, Easy Data, and one of the researchers, said that available evidence from the research identified patriarchy and male-dominated culture as drivers of GBV in the extractive sector.
Oke said that the most prevalent forms of GBV in mining communities are domestic violence, 31 percent; forced marriage, 15 percent and sexual abuse,14 percent.
He said, “However, there is a study-defined category that highlighted other forms of GBV being experienced in the communities which included: rights violation in terms of safety concerns and lack of protective materials not provided.
“Others are economic abuse, women being paid less than men for similar task on mining sites, women and girls driven from sites with threats of rape and sexual abuse.
“There is also manipulation of underage girls for sexual favours, underage girls’ arms couriers and illegal mineral smugglers.”
Oke said that the study recommended specific actions required of the government, civil groups and other stakeholders in addressing GBV in the extractive sector, such as sustained advocacy for policy review.
On her part, Director of Development, Centre-LSD, Ms. Olayinka Marthins, said that in January 2021, the Centre began the Implementation of the BUILD grant for strengthening an intersectional appfoach to gender and natural resources management.
She said that the project aimed at strengthening institution,programmed interventions, capacity building among others.
Marthins said that the centre recorded several results from this intervention in one year some of which included increase In the number of female employees in mining companies and organisations.