“I am a survivor of domestic violence. I survived gender-based violence from left, right and center and I have decided to turn my struggle into a success story for other women in my community. Ending violence against women is a task that must be done; for other women and girls, for my daughters, and for me too.”

Imagine a woman laying helplessly in a hospital, her 28 day-old baby beside her. As she was gazing into the space, the male doctor moves close to her bedside and whispers to her ears ”Lady, either you find a way to stop your husband punching you or you live with it all your life. It's a never-ending journey for women in this country”.

This happened on the 22nd of June, 2002 and that woman was me.

My grandmother’s and mother’s story was not so different; just a different face, a different phase and a different generation. When I faced my personal domestic violence, I knew that I must do something about it fast because I have given birth to daughters – will they continue to suffer like us? No, in order for the not to, I must stand for them; otherwise they will be fighting for the rest of their lives.

What is the issue you are trying to solve? Domestic violence is a daily occurrence in Nigeria. Culturally, when girls grow up, they learn that it must be tolerated and can even be expected once they get married; to be lived with or endured as the case may be. A common proverb is that “marriage is like school where the husband is the teacher and the wife is the pupil but unlike a school, she cannot graduate” till death do they part.

As a survivor of domestic violence, I can attest to the fact that the husband acts like a teacher in the home; his word is the law. According to a demographic health survey released in Nov 2009, 2/3rd of the women interviewed revealed that they are abused, mostly by their husbands or partners, while 43% of the women believe that their husband or partner has the right to beat them. This was affirmed in March 2016 when Nigeria threw out the Gender Equality Bills, the fourth time in twenty years. Men can beat their wives because we are not equal. Even the Nigeria penal code allows it.

What is your solution? Instead of brooding over my experience of violence, I decided to turn my struggle into a success story for other women in my community. Therefore I founded the Star of Hope Transformation Center, a healing space where women are trained about their rights, equality and can also acquire skills.  

In 2014, we piloted the first TTTTT (Tosin Turns Trash To Treasure), a new idea that targets turning abused women to community assets. The project aims to empower women by using trash to make treasure in order to encourage abused women to add value to their lives, walk out of abuse, learn new skills, be economically empowered and jump back into the community to become mentors, community leaders and voices for the oppressed. Trash to treasure empowers and educates abused women about their rights, changes societal mindset about violence against women and helps them to produce and easily market their products.

In what way will the lives of specific individuals be improved because of your work? Turn Trash To Treasureis a double-edged sword that deals with ending violence against women, while producing Treasure that is sold to generate income while at the same time protecting the environment from waste. In our programme, we teach women that nothing is nothing, everyone is a treasure and nobody is above anybody. 

The program aims to change mindsets in three ways; psychological, social and financial. Women are empowered to resist, report and recover from abuse while identifying and supporting other abused women in the community – and the cycle goes on. They also learn how to turn trash into treasures creating unimaginable and beautiful objects that generate income.

Women who were treated as trash become empowered and regain their lives back. I would love to spread this idea to every part of Nigeria and all over the world because abuse of women happens in every community, in every country.

Impact Goal: To train 170 women in each of the 36 states of Nigeria, one state per month (36 months), totalling 6,120 abused women in 3.5 years. The plan is to run two trainings concurrently in each state each month with women I have trained as trainers.

Comments

Star of Hope Transformation Center seems like a wonderful place for women to gather and share their painful stories. This is excellent innovation. I'm sure it will grow and evolve over time. Then the revenue producing program of TTTT gives them productive tasks, plus brings the much needed income which they do not have under the traditional cultural system. I commend you for all this work. Please continue!

Thanks so much. Thank you.

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale Founder/Project Coordinator Star of Hope Transformation Centre, 713 Road, A Close, Festac Town Lagos-Nigeria https:

Dear Olutosin,

Positive energy is a great tool in overcoming women related challenges. I am a keen supporter or economic empowerment for women and so glad that among the other things you are doing you have identified economic empowerment as one. It accords a certain sense of freedom for women to begin to reject ill treatment. we cannot just sit and look on. we must always stand-up for ourselves like you are doing and then start to pull other sister up because we have developed the strength and courage to fight for justice.

Good luck in your efforts, I am sure we shall be hearing many more testimonies from your organisation!

 

LVB

Yes, positive energy is absolutely necessary to overcome these challenges. Yes, we cant sit down looking, we must do something.

Thanks a lot

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale Founder/Project Coordinator Star of Hope Transformation Centre, 713 Road, A Close, Festac Town Lagos-Nigeria https:

Hello Tosin you are doing a great job. Domestic violence against women is an act that kills women gradually or even fast when severe. Unfortunately most women do not know where to find help or how to become economically empowered. This is what you provide and your solutions will go a long way to help the abused women. Well done!

Thanks my sister

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale Founder/Project Coordinator Star of Hope Transformation Centre, 713 Road, A Close, Festac Town Lagos-Nigeria https:

 What a wonderful idea, sister! I was the oldest of 3 daughters who grew up with a father who was abusive and violent. He would get drunk often and beat my mother. She sometimes called the police or her father to help her but they would just encourage her to endure. As a little girl, I vowed to never accept that from any man, I would fight back if necessary. And so I did, when I married my first husband. I divorced him which is allowed in the U.S. and later remarried a very good, gentle and responsible man. We've been married over 30 years now, no children. I live in a rural community in the south where most people are old-fashioned thinkers. Where the men tend to treat their women as property. I've witnessed several women who have tried to escape their abusive husbands but their family persuades them to stay with him....so sad!!! My mother is in her 70s now and has survived my father. I asked her why did she never leave him? She tells me that it was easier to put up with him then to imagine living on alone trying to raise 3 girls. Lack of confidence. She has aged to be a very independent, wise and strong woman - I'm so proud of her!!! 

Hmn, we get strength ad encouragement from our stories. I dont know why women cant live alone but men can.

 

I always pray that my daughters will not have similar experience like mine or my mother/grandmother.

We must empower our girls/daughters and let them know that they are enough.

Thanks for sharing your story too. 

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale Founder/Project Coordinator Star of Hope Transformation Centre, 713 Road, A Close, Festac Town Lagos-Nigeria https:

Hello Olutosin, great but difficult and very broad work. All  becuase of the wrong societal mindset about marriage. I am a Ghanaian working on the same issue, can we get in touch on whatsapp. My number is +233 506385715.

 

SAS