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Cablegate: Nigeria's Nominee for the 2009 Secretary's Award

VZCZCXRO8288
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHUJA #2142/01 3031659
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 291659Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4319
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA 1465
RUEHYD/AMEMBASSY YAOUNDE 0458
RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS 0172
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 002142

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR G/IWI, AF/W, INR/AA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM KWMN KPAO NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA'S NOMINEE FOR THE 2009 SECRETARY'S AWARD
FOR INTERNATIONAL WOMEN OF COURAGE

REF: STATE 99729

1. (U) Mission Nigeria is pleased to nominate Mrs. Josephine
Effah-Chukwuma as its nominee for the 2009 Secretary's Award
for International Women of Courage. Her biographical details
and nomination justification follow.

2. NOMINEE'S BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION:
FULL LEGAL NAME: Josephine Effah-Chukwuma
JOB TITLE/ASSOCIATION: Executive Director, Project Alert On
Violence Against Women
DATE OF BIRTH: September 29, 1966
COUNTRY OF BIRTH: Nigeria
CITIZENSHIP: Nigeria
ADDRESS: 26, Bamenda Street, Wuse Zone 3, FCT, Abuja, Nigeria
TELEPHONE: 234-9-8708618 or 234-805-200-4698
EMAIL: josephine@projectalertnig.org
PASSPORT NUMBER: A3805198A

3. (U) NOMINATION JUSTIFICATION:
The courage and perseverance that Mrs. Josephine
Effah-Chukwuma has demonstrated in her decade long quest to
end violence against women deserves recognition, and Mission
Nigeria is pleased to nominate her as our 2009 Woman of
Courage. Josephine Effah-Chukwuma established the NGO
Project Alert On Violence Against Women in January 1999 after
identifying the need for an organization that would focus
predominantly on the endemic problem of violence against
women. The three main objectives of Project Alert have been:
research and documentation, education and advocacy, and
support services. In May 2001, Project Alert opened the
first shelter in Nigeria specifically for abused women.
Located in Lagos, the shelter, called Sophia's Place (named
after her mother), offers temporary accommodation to an
average of 50 abused women and girls a year. Other services
offered at the shelter include: counseling, legal aid, skills
acquisition if needed, and small "start-off" loans. As
founder and Executive Director of Project Alert, Mrs.
Effah-Chukwuma has initiated various outreach projects such
as training and partnership programs with the police; male
involvement workshops to engage and sensitize men on the
gravity of violence against women; capacity building for
faith-based organizations to assist women who seek counsel;
HIV/AIDS awareness as it relates to sexual violence; and the
"Catch Them Young" project, aimed at educating young people
about physical and sexual abuse. Additionally, Mrs.
Effah-Chukwuma and her organization continually advocate for
policy and legal reform within Nigeria to address violence
against women.

4. (U) Violence against women is pervasive and often socially
accepted in Nigeria, where women are customarily considered
the property of the male head of household. Assessing the
true extent of violence against women is difficult due to the
lack of official statistics; but studies by NGOs such as
Project Alert suggest the levels of violence are extremely
high. Physical assault at the domestic level is the most
frequent form of violence against women and it cuts across
age, educational, social, religious, and cultural barriers.
Federal, state, and customary laws contribute to the
persistence of domestic violence, and in some cases directly
condone certain forms of violence against women. Neither the
federal nor state governments have offered a protective
framework for victims of domestic abuse to seek assistance or
refuge. Reports of spousal abuse are common; but the police
rarely intervene in what is considered a domestic dispute.
In more rural areas, courts and police are reluctant to
intervene in abuse cases if the alleged abuse did not exceed
customary norms (i.e. did not result in permanent damage,
disfigurement, or life-threatening injury). Victims
sometimes remain silent because of cultural or religious
tradition and society teaches them to tolerate the abuse for
the sake of the marriage, children or reputation of the
family. The dismissive attitude of law enforcement, lack of
judicial recourse, and societal tradition all compound the
difficulty in combating violence against women.

5. (U) Despite the obstacles faced, women like Josephine
Effah-Chukwuma continue to speak out and fight for the rights

ABUJA 00002142 002 OF 002


of women. Mrs. Effah-Chukwuma's endeavors greatly enhance
one of Mission Nigeria's main priorities: investing in
people. Promoting the work of civil society organizations
such as Project Alert and addressing the welfare of Nigeria's
citizens, especially women and young girls, is critical to
ensuring the domestic stability and prosperous democratic
future of Nigeria.

6. (U) Mrs. Josephine Effah-Chukwuma was notified of her
nomination as Mission Nigeria's Woman of Courage and
expressed extreme gratitude for such a great honor. The
nominee stated that she would be willing to travel to
Washington if selected as one of the finalists and would
humbly accept the award.

7. (U) Please contact Political Officer Nyree Tripptree at
tripptreena@state.gov for additional information.

8. (U) This cable was coordinated with Consulate Lagos.
Sanders

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