A STORY funded by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (The ICIR) has emerged as the winner of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) Media Africa awards for local journalism.
The announcement was made via a press release by KAS Media on Tuesday, February 6.
The entry by Grace Obike, a journalist with The Nations newspaper, was named one of the top three most exceptional contributions from 300 submissions across 22 African countries, spanning the anglophone and francophone regions.
The story “Abuja communities where girls’ breasts are suppressed to save them from rape” detailed how pre-teens in Abuja are tormented and forced to undergo breast ironing to avoid being raped.
According to the KAS award panel, Grace Obike’s story showed the disturbing practice and the difficulties in changing the mindset of those involved in the heinous act.
“Grace Obike’s story on breast ironing in Abuja highlights a troubling practice where girls aged 9-13 undergo this painful procedure to protect them from paedophiles in the community.
“Despite efforts to curb this gender-based violence, the story underscores the challenges in changing entrenched mindsets and holding perpetrators accountable for what is a lasting impact on these girls’ transition into womanhood,” they stated.
Responding to her nomination, Obike lauded the The ICIR for providing her with the grant to complete the report.
She said it would have been impossible for her to conduct the investigation and that the issue would remain unreported.
“I was surprised when I received the mail informing me of the win. I was so excited and grateful to The ICIR, to be honest, for the opportunity to do the report.
“Without the grant from The ICIR, I don’t think that I would have been able to undertake the investigations and, unfortunately, the issue would have probably remained unreported because since the story got published, a lot has happened,” she expressed.
She explained that after the report was published, she alerted the Minister of Women Affairs, who then took action with the backing of other women in the National Assembly.
Obike added, “The Minister has met with leaders in these communities. Some weeks ago, she signed an memorandum of understanding (MoU) on ending breast ironing in the communities and informed them that the FCT mobile courts would deal with people involved henceforth”.