Hundreds of teenage girls, aged 11 to 17, gathered on Wednesday in Magboro, Obafemi/Owode Local Government Area of Ogun State, to stage a peaceful protest against sexual harassment.

Dressed in white T-shirts, the girls were mobilized by the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) HACEY, in partnership with Empower, as part of the Platform for Amplifying the Voice and Empowerment of Girls (PAVE) project. They marched through several streets in the Magada area of Ibafo, drawing attention to the serious issue of sexual harassment.

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The protesters carried a variety of placards and banners emblazoned with powerful messages. Some of the inscriptions read: “Let Girls Walk in Peace”; “Sexual Harassment is Not Fun. It is a Crime and You Will Be Punished by the Law”; “Street Harassment is Not a Compliment”; “Say No to Sexual Harassment”; and “Stop Them Before They Stop You,” among others.

Speaking with newsmen from Vanguard, Damilola Oyetunji, the Coordinator for the Ogun State project of PAVE, expressed deep concern over the persistent harassment faced by young girls in the area. She highlighted the disturbing reality that young girls cannot move freely in the community after 6:00 pm without facing harassment.

Vanguard reports that Oyetunji lamented that numerous young girls had been reportedly raped, leading to cases of unwanted pregnancies. She emphasized the urgent need for collective action to create a safe environment for girls, allowing them to live without fear of harassment and abuse.

The protest aimed to raise awareness about the pervasive issue of sexual harassment and to advocate for the safety and rights of girls. The event underscored the importance of societal change and legal enforcement to protect young girls from harassment and abuse.

She mentioned that the rally aimed to educate girls on self-care and appropriate interactions with the opposite sex.

Additionally, she noted that the NGO extends awareness campaigns to schools, focusing on educating girls about self-protection.

During discussions with journalists at the protest, Mrs. Mercy Olatunde, a registered birth attendant, highlighted the widespread issue of girls facing harassment from local boys, expressing concern over their restricted freedom in the area.

Mrs. Olatunde, in her role as a birth attendant, recounted numerous cases of teenage pregnancies, often involving girls without stable partners.

While commending the NGO for coordinating the rally, Mrs. Olatunde urged parents to prioritize their daughters’ safety and cautioned against exposing them to situations that could lead to assault, thereby safeguarding their future.