Coalition calls for establishment of Referral Centres for rape victims

A coalition of nongovernment organisations has called for the establishment of Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) in all state of the federation.

They said the centres should be backed with a coordinated, sustainably-funded support system to make them efficient.

The coalition which had advocated for the declaration of a state of emergency on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) in Nigeria, stated this at a press conference jointly addressed by the Executive Director TechHerNG Chioma Agwuegbo, the CEO of Connected Development (CODE), Mr. Hamzat Lawal, Executive Director of Invictus Africa Bukky Shonibare,  Executive Director Education as a Vaccine Bukky Williams,   Executive Director Dorothy Njemanze Foundation, Dorothy Njemanze and Yetunde Bakari of YIAGA Africa in Abuja on Wednesday.

According to them, the coalition launched a nationwide campaign to advocate for systemic change on SGBV and also held protests in Abuja and Lagos.

They said, “These protests complemented the ongoing online campaign, #StateofEmergencyGBV, calling on citizens to demand that their legislators and state governments take holistic steps to protect citizens from all forms of violence, particularly sexual and gender-based violence.

“These activities also complemented efforts by legislators and the Governors’ Wives Forum pushing for the declaration of a State of Emergency on SGBV where some demands were made”.

The group also demanded for the domestication of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act of 2015 and the Child Rights Act of 2003 in all states of the federation.

They also stressed the need for the criminalisation and prompt state-led prosecution of SGBV cases within a reasonable time, regardless of requests or interference by the victim’s family or interested parties.

According to them, this is included in the demand for specialised courts for sexual offences which would be the best way forward in each state.

“There should also be the imposition of public disciplinary measures against officials of the Nigerian Police Force and state prosecutors that mishandle cases of SGBV,” they said.

They coalition further demanded the  domestication the VAPP Act (2015) which was an improvement on the penal and criminal code in relation to domestic and gender-based violence.

They said that the Act applied to violence in private and public spaces and also expands definitions of violence to include acts against men and boys, and also provides protection for victims and survivors of violence and punishment for offenders.

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