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Sexual violence is a human rights issue and a serious public health problem with both long and short term consequences on victims’ physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health. Whether the incident happens in the context of an intimate relationship, within the family – as in the case of childhood or teenage sexual abuse, community structure, or even during times of conflict, it is a deeply violating and painful experience for the survivor. It is important that we understand that the standard for what constitutes rape or abuse should not be set just above the level of coercion acceptable to us as a society but at the level of victims’ experience of violation. In order to believe a victim’s accounts of trauma, you need to suspend any preconceived notions that you have about what is possible and impossible in human experience because ultimately what victims/survivors of sexual violence need is understanding, compassion, empathy and support; not judgement and victim-blaming.

Obtaining an accurate measurement of rape and other types of sexual assault is a challenge. Determining the scope and nature of rape and other types of sexual assault depends on how these crimes are defined and measured. Sexual violence occurs throughout the world. Although in most countries, like ours for example, there has been little research and available, accurate date on the problem; so today I have a Digital Media Consultant to shed some light on the importance of data in the fight to end sexual violence.

Ized Uanikhehi is a Digital Media Consultant whose creative career journey traverses Project management, online brand management, Communication Crisis Management, Digital Media Marketing and analytics. She is a certified content strategist, writer and data analyst with a mission to optimize Digital Marketing efficiency for organizations in Africa. Ized Uanikhehi has a steep knowledge of the Digital media landscape and has been commissioned by leading brands including the Bank of Industry, USAID and IriGlobal. Her activities on behalf of clients range from Project management to marketing, brand management, developing digital media strategies, implementing campaigns and Digital Media Training.

Thank you so much for accepting to do this with me.

I’m very happy to contribute my knowledge on this.

So we’ll start with storytelling. Storytelling is unbelievably revealing and also intimate; do you think this is the right time to encourage storying sexual trauma in Nigeria and Africa?

I believe that there has never been a better time than now. Thanks to the power and reach of Social Media, the ability to reach and hopefully teach a much wider audience is available. Sexual trauma as well as other ills should be tabled and the experience storied so that people can learn from the experience.

With instances of sexual trauma that has been shared on social media in the past, which inspired disbelief, scrutiny, backlash, and little understanding, empathy and compassion for the survivors from the readers; don’t you think sexual trauma is best kept a secret? Should victims really be encouraged to speak out?

I believe sharing, opening up and talking about the experience helps the survivors, gives them an opportunity to lay it bare and stop self-blame. However, if the survivor is worried about backlash, then they can share anonymously, which I presume is why exists in the first instance.

Sexual violence was majorly kept a secret by victims in the past, dare I say, kept a secret by our mothers in their own generation (for instance); how do you think their time is different from ours considering how much of an epidemic sexual assault has become in our society?

Victim blaming was a huge issue in those days. It was always the victim’s fault, whether it was because of something they wore or some place they were at the wrong time, which I guess is why the experiences were majorly a secret. Victim blaming is still a thing presently, there are people who are still ignorant, but a lot less than before. People are wiser now, more aware, the conversations have begun and there’s a lot more understanding around the issues of sexual violence, the conversations are being shaped around the fact that it’s never the survivors’ fault. Also the advent of Social Media has given people a platform to share anonymously from behind a phone screen, as a result, people talk more about sexual assault now than before. In addition, I don’t think sexual assault is on the rise, I believe people are sharing more openly now and talking about it.

At Shareanonymousng, we believe data is important. As a specialist on data curation and analysis, why, would you say, Nigeria lacks accurate data on sexual violence?

Nigeria lacks data on a lot of things. Sometimes the data available to the public is incomplete and thus, inaccurate; which is why my goal and key focus as a social Media manager who collects and works with data is to make data collection and analytics a priority by making it available to people which will  in turn help drive key decisions.

How do you think accurate data and statistics can affect the problem of sexual violence in our society?

I believe that data and analysis made available to the public and right arms of government will drive certain decisions and passage of new laws that will help fight the scourge, it will also help people become aware of the extent and frequency of the problem.

Would you say data on sexual violence and stories from victims/survivors can help make crisis counselors more effective?

I can’t really say how it would, but I figure knowing certain key factors might help them better improve the care provided post-assault.

Finally, some of the reasons Shareanonymousng is big on data is because it can support research and community organizing, give insights on commonalities, decrease stigma around sexual victimization and help-seeking, and also give a better understanding of sexual violence; do you think a platform like ours could get communities, agencies etc. to become more invested and effective in tackling sexual violence, just like Lagos State is remarkably doing?

I am hoping that it would. We are relying on your team to go about this deliberately and support the agencies in winning this scourge.

It was such an honor to speak with Ized. You can find her on twitter @Zegbua. The conversation is far from over, kindly share your thoughts at the comment section. 

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