By Franca Ofili
The Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) Programme, an NGO, has provided Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) in 11 states.
Mrs Lauratu Abdulsalam, the Communication and Media Engagement Adviser, RoLAC, made this known in a statement in Abuja.
She said the organisation was funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the British Council.
She listed the benefiting states as Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Enugu, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Lagos, Niger, Sokoto and Yobe.
Abdulsalam said the equipment was also donated to other service providers working in the area of sexual and gender-based violence, including selected Family Support Units (FSUs) in Police stations.
Other places, she said, were the Police Clinic Abuja, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Sexual and Gender Based Violence Response Teams.
“The PPE distributed to these beneficiaries are hand gloves, hand sanitiser, surgical face masks, disinfectants and disposal aprons, among others.
“The support also covers provision of telephone airtime to enable the SARCs offer telephone counselling and follow up with victims of sexual assault,’’ she said.
Abdulsalam said that the aim of the intervention, according to Mr Danladi Plang, the National Programme Manager of RoLAC, was to ensure sustained service delivery to victims of sexual assault during the COVID-19 breakout.
She said that the current prevalence of COVID-19 had led to increase in cases of sexual and domestic violence.
According to her, service providers such as SARCs established by the British Council with support from the EU to provide support services including medical assistance, counselling and initial legal assistance to victims of sexual assault.
She said that according to experts, gender inequalities and violence against women and other vulnerable groups tend to increase during any type of crises or emergency situation.
“For instance, the lockdown order in many states, which restricts movements and enforces sit-at-home, meant that victims have been locked up with abusive partners.
“The increase in sexual and domestic violence is almost inevitable. The restriction has also meant that women and girls who are victims in this situation are limited from having access to support services.
“RoLAC is therefore implementing this intervention so that victims of sexual assault will continue to have access to the services of SARCs and other support services during the COVID-19 outbreak,’’ she said.
Abdulsalam said that the Commissioner for Gender Affairs, Enugu State, Mrs Peace Nnaji, who received the equipment on behalf of the state expressed gratitude for the equipment to support the services of the Tamar Sexual Assault Referral Centre in Enugu.
She said that the commissioner’s gratitude followed dozens of similar messages the programme had received over the past few days from SARC Centre’s managers, in the acknowledgement of the COVID-19 response support RoLAC had provided to 16 SACRs centres.
Abdulsalam said that the programme was also being implemented by the British Council in five states, including Kano, Lagos, Anambra, Edo and Adamawa as well as at the federal level.
“The programme aims to enhance good governance in Nigeria by contributing to the strengthening of the rule of law, to curbing corruption and to reducing impunity; through support to criminal justice and anti-corruption reform.
“It will also support initiatives to enhance access to justice for women, children and persons with disabilities,’’ she said. (NAN)