NO fewer than 737 sexual violence survivors made up of 16 male minors, one sodomised adult male and 720 females have been provided free, holistic and quality services by the first sexual assault referral centre in Nigeria, The Mirabel Centre, Lagos.
Promoter of the centre and managing partner, Partnership of Justice (PJ), Mrs. Itoro Eze -Anaba, who disclosed this on Wednesday at a media briefing to mark the Centre’s two years of support to survivors of sexual assault, in a compassionate and caring manner, regretted the absence of reliable data to determine the number of cases of the sexually- abused in the country.
According to her, before the centre came on board with funding from Justice For All Programme (J4A) of the Department of International Development (DFID) of the British Council, absence of reliable and verifiable data and lack of support services for victims has remained one of the biggest challenges in seeking justice for survivors of sexual assault in the country.
This disturbing trend, she said, led to many survivors not seeking help nor reporting to the police.
She, however, noted that with the establishment of the Mirabel Centre, many of these survivors, the youngest being 10 months and the oldest 70 years old are now utilising the services of the centre, with some of them referred by the police, hospitals, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and government agencies.
The centre, she said, has also visited over 40 schools in Lagos State with a view to equipping teachers and students with the skills to become change agents in the community.
This, Mrs. Eze-Anaba said, has created more awareness about rape and sexual assault and has encouraged more victims to speak out and seek help.
While identifying funding as the major challenge facing Mirabel Centre, she said without financial support the centre would not be able to continue providing services to these vulnerable ones in the community.