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COVID-19: EU, British Council Provides PPE to Sexual Assault Referral Centres, Other Service Providers in Nigeria

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John Anyim

The Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) Programme of the British Council has provided Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in fighting off COVID-19 pandemic to Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) in 11 states of federation and other service providers working in the area of sexual and gender based violence in Nigeria.

This was disclosed in a statement by the National Programme Manager, ROLAC, Mr. Danladi Plang, listing the beneficiary SARCs states to include Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Enugu ,Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Lagos, Niger, Sokoto and Yobe.

The RoLAC Programme is funded by the EU under the 11th EDF; and it is being implemented by the British Council in five states of Nigeria namely: Anambra, Kano, Lagos, Edo and Adamawa and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja. The programme seeks to enhance good governance in Nigeria by advocating for respect for the rule of law, to curbing corruption and to reducing impunity; through support to criminal justice system and anti- corruption reforms and supporting initiatives to enhance access to justice for women, children and Disabled Persons.

Plang noted that ROLAC will also extend the PPE to other service providers working in the area of sexual and gender based violence including selected Family Support Units (FSU) in Police stations, Police clinic Abuja, NAPTIP, Sexual & Gender Based Violence Response Teams).

The items distributed to these beneficiaries are: hand gloves, hand sanitizers, surgical face masks, disinfectants, disposal aprons, etc.

According to Plang, the support also covers provision of telephone airtime to enable the SARCs officials offer telephone counselling and follow up services with the victims of sexual assault. The purpose of the intervention, according to RoLAC, is to ensure sustained service delivery to victims of sexual assault during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Part of the statement reads: “The present pandemic has led to multiple cases of sexual and domestic abuses and service providers such as SARCs, established by British Council with support from the European Union to provide support services including medical assistance, counselling and initial legal assistance to victims of sexual assault are now having difficulties in providing services to victims and survivors due to COVID-19 related challenges such as insufficient or lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) like hand sanitizers, face masks, hand gloves, and the lockdown restriction of movement among others are likely to affect the operations of these service providers.

“According to experts, gender inequalities and violence against women tend to increase during any type of crises or emergency situation. For instance, the lockdown order in many states in Nigeria, which restricts movements and enforces sit-at-home, has meant that victims have been locked up with abusive partners and Relations, 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. The Programme is hopeful about the positive impact of this intervention, as its beneficiaries already testify to it.”

Meanwhile, the Enugu State Commissioner for Gender Affairs, Mrs. Peace Nnaji, who received the equipment on behalf of the state government expressed gratitude to ROLAC for providing PPE, airtime and internet data to support the services of the Tamar Sexual Assault Referral Centre in Enugu.

The Commissioner’s message of thanks also followed dozen similar messages the programme has received over the past few days from managers of SARC Centres in the acknowledgement of the COVID response support, ROLAC has provided to 16 SACRs Centres.

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