UN Women has expressed concern over the alarming increase in sexual and gender-based violence during the lockdown phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is staggering and quite noteworthy that a third of all women in the world experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, most commonly from an intimate partner or family member.
Survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) experience a wide range of psychological and social consequences, including stigma, shame, depression, isolation, and abandonment, strengthened by a society that creates excuses for the perpetrators.
What is SPRING activity?
SPRING activity is UNESCO’s innovative approach in collaboration with the African Centre for Youth Sports and Development (ACYSD) under the Spotlight Initiative in Nigeria to rehabilitate SGBV survivors employing sports’ recreative and therapeutic functions.
Sports and Psycho-social rehabilitation of Survivors of Gender-based violence (SPRING) in Abuja employs a therapeutic-recreation approach using sports to rehabilitate survivors of SGBV, reducing the impact of such violence. In SPRING’s context, survivors are girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 25 who have experienced, witnessed, or been exposed to human rights violations including violence and humiliation during the past year.
Religious centers have mostly been the go-to point for rehabilitation for most of these girls while the less fortunate few have had to thread the murky waters on their own.
Sports have many uses. It is recreational; done as a means of leisure or relaxation especially as a reward for work done. Professional; taken as a career, where athletes are paid for their performance and also therapeutic; helping people reduce depression, stress, and anxiety; recover basic physical and mental abilities; build confidence; and socialize effectively.
Youth Sports Movement (YSM), the sports branch of ACYSD boasting relevant experience having gained recognition after recent success organizing one of the biggest inter-school competitions in Abuja, YSM Abuja School Games is pioneering this activity.
Professional recreational therapists, psychologists, and doctors are combining knowledge and years of experience to support 65 women and girls’ survivors of SGBV for 16 sessions, beginning from 5th December 2020 to 10th April 2021 in Abuja, Nigeria.
With the first session already done, the survivors eased out their nerves in a bubbly environment, interacting with themselves and their handlers. A preliminary fitness test was carried out to ensure they were in the right state of health to partake in the course. A questionnaire to determine the state of their mental health was also administered. The Butterfly Woman storytelling technique, which runs through the program was introduced to the survivors. The fictional storytelling technique has several functions:
- Using fictional stories to create a shared point of reference without particularly touching on individual cases or a survivor’s own experience
- Strengthening memory and learning by linking the acquisition of skills to a story.
- Being immensely descriptive, generically, and using informal language.
Initiated by the European Union and the United Nations, the Spotlight Initiative’s SPRING activities are the first phase of intervention towards supporting survivors of SGBV in Nigeria.
We understand that the road ahead through rehabilitation might be bumpy but we are determined to see it to the end.
“There is no excuse for sexual violence. There are no blurred lines when it comes to consent.” – UNWomen 2020.
We hear them, we believe them and we stand by them!
You should too!
#IDeyWithHer-Together we win