A report by the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) has said that no fewer than 5,623 cases of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) were recorded in Nigeria’s Northeastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, in the past four years.
The SARC’s National Team Leader, Prof. Muhammed Tabiu, said this in Abuja, while presenting the report, during a two-day workshop on results and lessons of initiatives to address SGBV in the three states.
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The event was organised by SARC in collaboration with the Managing Conflict in Nigeria (MCN) Programme, funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the British Council.
Daily Trust reports that the three conflict-torn states have been devastated by armed Boko Haram attacks over the years, leading to displacement and reported cases of rapes and other forms of abuse in the camps for displaced persons also known as the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps.
“The Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) and SARCs Steering Committees compiled 5,623 incidents involving child abuse and other sexual and gender-based violence from January 2018 to July 2022 for the BAY (Borno, Adamawa, Yobe) states,” the report said.
The study also said that 640 arrests, or 88.6 percent of the total number of SGBV incidents in four years, were recorded, apart from the 82 offenders that had been charged across various courts located in the three states.
The report also noted that the centre secured eight convictions, of the total number of sexual offenders taken to courts.
It stated that the information was gathered through its several departments, which were set up in hospitals, and the Police, NSCDC, and other security agencies in response to reports of SGBV spread throughout the three states.
Prof. Tabiu who is also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said the initiative was developed to offer services for survivors and victims of gender-based violence.
He said, “The Programme also led the establishment of Family Support Units FSUs domiciled at Police facilities across the three states – a specialized department of the Police that responds to reports of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and other issues other affecting families. The centres are situated in divisions and the Criminal Investigation Departments (CID).”
“These initiatives provide an essential service to victims. Mr Tabiu said. ”Especially the medical service, so as soon a case comes to attention and there is a need for medical intervention, as it ensures the survivors of the victim and protects the victim against various kinds of sexually related diseases.
“Secondly, there is psychosocial support because of the trauma associated with sexual violence and then, thirdly there is support for the victim through the legal processes that ensure the perpetrator is brought to justice.”
Speaking about the difficulties the centre faces in prosecuting and convicting sexual offenders, Prof. Tabiu acknowledged that each state has had some success in working with its respective ministry of justice and women’s affairs.
He, however said that people do not like reporting rape cases because of the stigma and profiling and also the increased trauma of the victims.
He said, “The area of prosecution is very challenging in the country with a lot of weaknesses, but interventions of this kind have made it likely that cases would be prosecuted and convicted. And a number of states have been taken by the programme to support and increase the level of conviction.”