The European Union (EU), British Council, and the Rule of Law and Anti-corruption (RoLAC), an NGO, have commissioned a centre to be used toward addressing cases of sexual violence in Nigeria.
The sexual assault centre, the first of its kind in the Federal Capital Territory, is named the Aywetu Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARCs) and sited in Bwari Area Council if the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Speaking at the event, Mr Danladi Plang, Programme Manager, RoLAC, said that with the establishment of the centre, victims id sexual violence could walk in or be referred by other agencies to tender complaints.
According to him, the centre provides all services free of charge and offers continuous counselling, stressing that all cases at SARCs are handled with confidentiality.
“SARCs has also assisted over 15,800 victims of sexual assault across the country, over 70 per cent of whom are under the age of 18 years old.
“Over 600 personnel have been trained to work on the SARCs across the country,’’ he said.
Clement Boutillier, Head, Democracy, Governance and Migration Section, EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, said the EU considered sexual assault referral centres an important tool in the fight against sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).
“The fight against SGBV remains one of the main priorities of the EU because we believe that this is a threat and there are challenges that affect so many people around the world.
” SGBV is creating underdevelopment, negatively affects social cohesion, the ability to contribute to society and ultimately, it prevents society from thriving.
“Supporting women’s rights is supporting human rights, which is a core value that we all share,’’ he said.
Boutillier noted that EU had committed significant resources to the fight against SGBV through technical and financial support to frontline defenders, stressing that EU is proud of supporting the initiative.
While thanking the British Council for its support in ensuring the launch of the centre, he said that EU’s hope is for more of such centres to be established to cater to the needs of the most vulnerable in society.
Dame Pauline Tallen, Minister of Women Affairs, while commending the organisers for the initiative, noted that recent reports had shown that the rate of sexual violence in Nigeria was on the increase.
Represented by Ebele Obiefuna, an official in the ministry, Tallen said one of the areas where women, girls, and boys had suffered a lack of access to justice was sexual violence.
She disclosed that a poll conducted recently indicated that one in every three girls would have experienced at least one form of sexual abuse by the time they were 25 years old.
She promised that her Ministry would collaborate with relevant agencies to ensure coordination among them in the area of providing services to survivors of SGBV.