The Sokoto State Government in collaboration with some international donor agencies has established a sexual assaults’ referral centre to provide immediate and long term remedies for survivors of Gender-Based Violence (GBV).
The state Commissioner for Women Affairs, Hajia Kulu Sifawa, said this on Thursday in Sokoto at a two-day pre-commencement sensitisation workshop.
Sifawa said that it was part of the “Spotlight Initiative Project’’ aimed at eliminating violence against women and girls.
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The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Spotlight Initiative is a project sponsored by the European Union, UNICEF, the Federal Government of Nigeria, UNFPA and UNESCO.
She said that the centre located within the Sokoto Specialist Hospital would commence operations in March.
According to her, it is aimed at providing succour to survivors of sexual assaults who are mostly vulnerable.
She said the centre would be manned by specialists from all sectors: including medical, psychological, law and enforcement agents.
The commissioner noted that women and girls who had suffered from various forms of assaults used to face challenges in securing medication and other remedies.
Sifawa explained that modalities for sustaining the centre, as well as possibility of replicating it in the three Senatorial Districts and the 23 local government areas (LGAs) of the state were being considered.
In her address, the workshop facilitator, Mrs Josephine Effah-Chukwuma, of Project Alert explained that five organisations were engaged in the implementation of the project.
Effah-Chukwuma listed them as: the Sultan Foundation and Women Right Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA).
According to her; others are: Neem Foundation, Partnership for Justice and Project Alert under the Spotlight Initiative.
Effah-Chukwuma said that other stakeholders such as the Ministry of Women Affairs, Ministry of Social Welfare, the Nigerian Police, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and Sokoto Hisbah were actively engaged in the programme.
She appealed for support from and collaboration by community leaders, community-based organisations and the media toward the success of the programme.
Also, Mrs Itoro Eze-Anaba, in a lecture titled, “Sexual Violence in Nigeria: Prevalence and Challenges,’’ said most of the perpetrators of sexual assaults were closed relations.
Eze-Anaba, who is from Mirable Centre, Lagos, the first sexual assault referral centre, urged parents to always monitor the activities of their children.
She noted that a high percentage of child abuse cases arose from violation of trust.
She said that her centre had recorded over 5,000 sexual assault cases, noting that the centre had a rape case of a three-month-old baby and also that of an 80-year-old woman raped by a tenant.
Eze-Anaba urged authorities and stakeholders to live up to expectations by prosecuting perpetrators and finding ways to deal with stigmatisation in relation to sexual abuses.
She said that research findings had indicated that 85 per cent of perpetrators were known.
She said that there should be joint efforts by the society to expose and punish perpetrators, noting that the consequences of sexual assaults were usually dangerous and detrimental to their victims.