An ambitious proposal to ensure justice for survivors of sexual abuse in Nigeria is the winner of the 2019 Commonwealth Digital Challenge, a competition designed to encourage innovation through media.
The winning entry, called the “Sexual Violence Reporting Platform”, was proposed by 23-year-old teacher, Patrick Obumselu, from Anambra State, Eastern Nigeria.
It aims to offer a secure, online space where those affected by sexual abuse can document crimes committed against them. Independent investigators – including journalists - will gather enough evidence to compel the police to act.
The Commonwealth Digital Challenge is supported by the Elizabeth R Media Fund and administered by the Thomson Foundation on behalf of Buckingham Palace. The Challenge is open to Commonwealth-based journalists, media managers and media entrepreneurs aged 18-30.
This second year of the Challenge received entries from across the Commonwealth, but saw an all-Nigerian shortlist, confirming the country’s reputation for creating young, tech-savvy media entrepreneurs.
Patrick was motivated by his own experience of being sexually abused as a child. His platform will create an identity-protected space for those affected by sexual violence.
It is a crime which, he says, goes largely unreported in Nigeria due to a lack of action from the authorities, fear of reprisals, or being blamed. He also wants to end the “culture of silence around the issue of sexual violence, due to the victims’ fears of being stigmatized or harmed by the abuser.”
Patrick will visit the UK in early 2020 as guest of The Elizabeth R Media Fund to receive expert advice and training to enable him to implement a reporting platform which is a secure, user-friendly and robust enough to inspire the confidence of users and the legal profession.
“We offer our congratulations to all of those shortlisted for the Commonwealth Digital Challenge 2019.”
The two others on the shortlist were also commended by the judges. Olayinka Iyinolokan presented REACT Mobile News. It is an innovative attempt to use social media and mobile technology to counter fake news and engage young people in consuming up-to-date, factual news. Habib Oladapo entered Africana Migration Project - a news agency-based model aimed at countering the myths and misinformation surrounding African Migration. The Thomson Foundation has offered to advise both candidates to help both bring their ideas to fruition.
All three shortlisted candidates were offered mentoring sessions by three judges over the summer. The mentor/judges were Kate Adams, director of operations and special projects for Nesta; Sarah Drinkwater, director at the Tech and Society Solutions Lab at Omidyar Networks, and Arshia Gratiot, founder and CEO of Third Space Auto Ltd.
Nigel Baker, chief executive of the Thomson Foundation, said: "All three finalists provide great examples of how media can be used as a force for good in society."
A Buckingham Palace spokesperson commented: "We offer our congratulations to all of those shortlisted for the Commonwealth Digital Challenge 2019 and thanks to the judges for their time and support."
The Elizabeth R Media Fund (originally the Elizabeth R Broadcasting Fund) was established by Buckingham Palace from the royalties earned from “Elizabeth R” - the 1992 BBC documentary which marked the 40th anniversary of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. Its original purpose was to help Commonwealth broadcasters who received a donation from the Fund. It now works to encourage the development of digital platforms which promote civil society.