AMBUSH, ABDUCTION and forceful or violent sexual abuse in repeated manner is the regular pattern and characteristic of most rapists in many parts of the world. Nigeria is no exception to heinous crimes such as rape.
In fact according to a recent study, the top ten countries with the maximum rape crimes in the world include: Denmark and Finland, Zimbabwe, Australia and Canada, New Zealand, India, England and Wales, USA, Sweden and South Africa.
Unfortunately, there is no register or national data to back up the incidence of rape in Nigeria but a 2014 UNICEF national survey on Violence Against Children reveals that 24.8% of females between the age of 18 and 24 years have reported experiencing any sexual abuse (rape) before 18 years; 9.4% have experienced physically forced sex while 4.2% actually experienced pressured sex. The data interprets that one in every four girls suffers rape.
In the last few months, reported cases of rape especially of children, young girls and women are on the rise in different parts of the country and experts are increasingly worried about the consequences of rape and violent sexual assaults on the health of victims as well as on the nation.
Lagos State is perhaps the only state which has made bold steps to criminalise sexual assaults and rape with prison sentences as it also became the first State to pass the Law on Violence Against Children, by putting various jail terms for offenders especially rapists.
Being the most urban and populous State in the country, Lagos which presently can boost of quite a number of rape response centres welcome yet another addition which was open to the public on December 1.
Founded by Women At Risk International Foundation WARIF, the Sexual Assault Referral Centre located on 6, Turton Street, Yaba, Lagos is the brain child of Dr. Kemi DaSilva Ibru, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist in collaboration with the Washington DC Rape Crisis Centre, US.
Speaking on the mission of the referral centre, DaSilva Ibru noted, “As one of the first responders to sexual assaults, the centre will provide adequate medical, psycho-social support as well as empowerment for survivors who walk in through our doors to seek help”.
She added also, “WARIF centre will serve as a safe haven for all young girls and women who have been sexually abused and are affected by the harrowing problem by immediately providing the needed medical attention within 72hours of incidence of rape.
“We shall also support survivors of rape and domestic sexual violence or assault through promotion of healing and prevention as well as advocate for social change through our numerous programmes that would be unveilrd”.
Since the centre has collaboration with DC rape centre, Lagos State Government bodies like Ministries of Health, Justice, Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Youth and Social Development as well as the Office of the Public Defender and Domestic Violence and SExuak Vio,enct Response Team, DaSilva says, referral to the centre is easy and not cumbersome.
“What we advocate is for every young girl or woman who is raped to speak out immediately, walk through our doors and we are ready to take it up from there to ensure such a person gets immediate treatment and response”, DaSilva Ibru assured.
Also speaking at the opening of the centre, Executive Director, DC Rape Centre, Indira M Henard observed that it is time efforts are concerted towards global fight against gender based violence.
According to Henard, the DC Rape centre is pleased to provide resources towards establishing and supporting the WARIF centre saying, “It is important that the international community come together to not only address gender based-violence, but also create resources and tools to enable self-determination and freedom for all”