A new innovative online Nigerian platform is set to tackle human rights focused issues in Nigeria.
Mike Daemon of NoStrings spoke to the project director, Mr. Scarface, about the new platform and how it will shape discussions and provoke fresh thoughts around issues affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community and as well deal with a wide range of other human rights issues in the country.
Read the interview below.
I am super excited about your new project and I understand that come August 1st, you’ll be launching what will become Nigeria’s first photo-voice online platform tackling human rights issues. Am sure a whole lot of people are curious, so can you tell us a bit more about this project and why do you think this platform is important and needed?
Thanks Mike, I am excited about this as well and being here also. I believe that a way to break through certain societal constructs and normativity is accepting that humans and our experiences are fluid as supposed to being binary. People fear and rebel against what they don’t understand and HOUSE’s goal is to shine light on some of these grey areas, bring it into clearer perspectives and allow people to see that there is more going on out there than we can ever understand and all we can do is live and let live unless if we are lending a helping hand then “live and give others the chance to do the same”.
So, how will this platform work basically, and who can be a part of housecampaign?
This platform combines pictures and experiences. Individuals who are willing to participate and share their experiences in the following but not limiting categories: discrimination, physical and verbal bullying, struggles with sexuality, rape victims, gender & sexuality based assaults etc. can do so by submitting maximum of 100 word narration which should include their name, age and country of residence along with a picture that best describes their experience. A face showing picture is not necessary. Pictures they say is worth a thousand words. So often we have heard of these experiences but very little have we seen what it is like, this gives us a close look at what these feels like. By doing this, people discover what they have in common, it makes gender mainstreaming possible & easier which can lead to social actions to address issues identified & help improve their situations.
On the official HOUSE’s website, it’s stated that HOUSE will provide a safe place for experiences to be shared, experiences that normally would not be allowed in the “conventional” setting. What exactly does this mean, and what experiences are you talking about?
You’ll agree with me that discrimination exists like a plague in our society. Discrimination against people living with HIV, against rape victims, victims of gender based violence, the LGBT community, the girl child in certain communities and the list goes on. Most of these people have just their pillows in the middle of the night to talk to in sobs. But what if they can speak out, express their pain, and share their experiences? What if they can make the world hear them? They might even get support in the process, others that share their pain, a little relief that all can be well again. Wouldn’t it be a good thing?
Apart from putting up stories in pictures, what else will the platform do?
Putting up photo-voices is just a part of it. With this platform referrals can be made, if the need for it arises. Referrals for medical interventions, psychosocial support and counseling, safe houses etc. With these entries, statistics can be inferred and organizations like INCRESE, Queer Alliance, Teirs, SFH, etc. can use this for any planning action including legislation, policies or programmes that concerns the well being of individuals at all levels. And thus, will form an integral part of the designing, implementation, monitoring & evaluation of programmes.
How do you think HOUSE can serve as a safe spot for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Nigerian’s who often suffer discrimination and who constantly live in fear, and can’t express themselves?
In every movement a crucial part is having a stand point and doing this assertively like Martin Lawrence did. And this LGBT Nigerians can do digitally now. They can now speak out in a statement of who they are as opposed to who they are perceived to be. There is freedom in speaking out be in on the internet or a podium. There is no discrimination in HOUSE.
So tell us, what are your overall expectations for HOUSE and what inspired the project?
A need for change is what inspired this project. HOUSE overall expectation is to improve the lives of individuals. To see a decrease in gender based assaults & other human rights violation. To see increased number of policies & organizations supporting the LGBT community, to see availability of professional care givers & counselors willing to render services to patients regardless of gender & sexuality to see an increase in freedom of expression.