Okediran releases advocacy novellas on gender-based violence

SECRETARY-General, Pan African Writers’ Association (PAWA), Dr Wale Okediran, has boosted the advocacy against gender-based violence with 10 new novellas.

The works published by Rasmed Publishers include ‘An Excursion to Jos’, ‘Uncle B and the Twins’, ‘The Christmas Party’, ‘A Smell from the Past’ and ‘A Job for Salome’.

The other five are ‘The Patient on Bed 21’, ‘A Puzzle for Dr Bello’, ‘A Visitor for Grandma Bintu’, ‘The School on Top of the Hill’ and ‘A Full Tray of Groundnuts.’

The newly released books are a welcome addition to efforts against gender-based violence, which 28% of Nigerian women aged 25-29 are reported to have experienced since age 15.

It can manifest in the form of child marriage, female genital mutilation, intimate partner violence, sex/slavery trafficking, physical punishment and sexual, emotional or psychological violence.

All these and more, including male- on- male sexual violence, are highlighted in Okediran’s novellas, which will undoubtedly go a long way in enlightening young readers on steps they should take should they ever fall victims.

‘An Excursion to Jos’, for instance, centres on Silas, a 12-year old boy sexually assaulted by a senior, Amote, during an excursion to Jos. Amote threatened Silas to conceal his encounter with him but did the secret later leak? The book shows the consequences of male on male sexual violence.

‘The Christmas Party’ examines female sexual assault against males through the case of Martin, who had a rough deal at the hands of his aunt’s friends.

‘A Job for Salome’ highlights why people, especially ladies new to the city from the hinterlands, cannot afford to let their guards slip. Salome was very excited by the idea of going to the city.  She resumed work in the city with the help of her brother, Patrick. Unfortunately, her joy of securing a job in the city turns sour after being sexually assaulted at her company’s staff party.

‘The Patient On Bed 21’ highlights the plight of physically challenged people in the hands of some unscrupulous members of the public. When Ade, the good looking deaf and dumb young man, was admitted to a hospital, little did he know that Sade, the night nurse, would sexually assault him.

‘A Puzzle For Dr Bello’ shows the evil predators perpetrate under the guise of religion. The similarities in the complaints presented by many young Koranic students (Almajiris) in the hospital in the small town of Bodinga remained a puzzle for the medical doctor until he finally solved the mystery. He was shocked at the cause of the terrible scourge.

The elderly are also not safe from predators, as seen in ‘A Visitor For Grandma Bintu’. The curious and charming older woman became a target of sexual abuse because of dementia.

Explaining why he wrote the books, Okediran said they were at the promptings of his publisher and are to address a social problem.

He said: “The books written during the COVID-19 lockdown came about at the suggestion of my publisher, Dapo Gbadega, the CEO of RASMED Publishers, Ibadan. He observed, and I agreed with him that given the rising incidence of gender-based violence worldwide, especially due to the lockdown, there was an urgent need to use literature to educate the public about the scourge.

“In the course of researching for the books, I discovered that GBV is a big issue that cuts across both genders and all age groups. So,  we decided that rather than bring out one big book that many may find too intimidating, I should write a series of novellas that adequately address the issues.

“This is why each book tackles different situations. The beauty of the project is that apart from the stories, suggestions for the prevention of the scourge were highlighted at the end of each book. The books are, therefore, both for the entertainment and education of readers.

He added that the books “are for both children and adults because contrary to popular opinion, victims of gender violence are not only children. Also, it is important to add that though the majority of victims of GBV are females, males are also affected. From my experience, incidences of GBV range from ‘male to female’, ‘male to male’ and ‘female to female’.

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