Experiences of a Human Rights Defender
A Shelter City Lecture by Judith (Lagos, Nigeria). The moderator is Prof. Fons Coomans, holder of the UNESCO Chair in Human Rights. This lecture is free to visit.
In Nigeria today, there is a high level of social injustice, discrimination, marginalization and stigmatization. Same sex sexual conduct is criminalized under the panel code inherited from the British and Islamic Shar’ia law, while public display of same sex affection, LGBTI activities, etc. is criminalized under the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act 2013 which is a newer legislation.
Judith is a lesbian living and working as a human rights activist, LGBTI community paralegal and a Program Officer in Women’s Health and Equal Rights (WHER) Initiative in Nigeria. WHER is focused on promoting the rights and wellbeing of sexual minority women in Nigeria and was established in 2011.
Judith is here for the Shelter City Program organized by Justice and Peace for human rights defenders at risk in their home countries and will be here for a period of three months before returning back to continue the work that she is doing for her community.
During this special session Judith will talk about her experiences as a human rights activist in her home country. She will show us how she became an activist and what she has gone through during that time. She will talk about the situation of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders in Nigeria. The session will be interactive, so it will be possible to ask questions directly to Judith.
Born in Lagos, Nigeria, a graduate of Library and Information Science hails from the south-eastern part of Nigeria. Judith is an activist, passionate about equality for all and works with Women’s Health and Equal Rights (WHER) Initiative as the Program Officer. WHER is a Lesbian and Bisexual led organization, focused on promoting the rights and wellbeing of sexual minority women in Nigeria, by addressing the effect of the dual discrimination (sexism and homophobia) faced by sexual minority women and their under-representation in the LGBT movement in Nigeria. Judith is faced with threat of being outed by her father to the society for practicing her sexual orientation in her home country which puts her at risk of fourteen (14) years imprisonment and threat from people via social media due to the nature of her work.
Shelter City & Judith
Currently the City of Maastricht and the Faculty of Law are hosting a human rights defender from Nigeria. Her name is Judith. She is in The Netherlands for 3 months to find a temporary shelter, rest and relief, because her life is at risk in Nigeria. Her stay is facilitated by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the human Rights NGO Justice & Peace which has established the Shelter City Project to host human rights defenders for a short stay in a number of Dutch cities. The idea is that she will follow courses at the University, engage in lobby activities, but also inform the public about her work as a human rights defender and the human rights situation in Nigeria. The University will organise meetings for students and staff during which Judith will have the opportunity to present and discuss her work and personal situation. For more information see the brief Introduction which has been attached.
The Shelter City Project
Shelter City is a country-wide initiative by Justice and Peace Netherlands, in cooperation with Dutch cities and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which aims to protect human rights defenders. Human rights defenders stand up for their own rights and those of others. This is a difficult struggle. Often, they run great risk: they are silenced, arrested, tortured, and sometimes simply disappear. When human rights defenders are threatened severely because of their work, they are eligible for a three-month stay in one of the Dutch Shelter Cities. Besides providing rest and respite, their stay in the Netherlands allows them to continue their work in a safe environment. In addition, they enlarge their professional network of civil society organizations and political connections in The Hague, Brussels, and elsewhere. Furthermore, the human rights defenders participate in training courses to develop relevant skills. Moreover, through public events and workshops, they contribute to raising awareness about human rights among the citizens of the Shelter Cities.
Karl Dittrich Hall, Student Services Centre
Tuesday 23 May, 7.30 pm
Judith (Lagos, Nigeria), graduate of Library and Information Science, human rights activist, LGBTI community paralegal and Program Officer in Women’s Health and Equal Rights (WHER) Initiative in Nigeria