Lagos — Respite is on the way for victims of rape and all forms of sexual assault in Nigeria as a Sexual Assault Referral Centre, SARC, will soon take off at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH.
The centre, first of its kind in Nigeria, is being set up by the Partnership for Justice, PFJ, supported by Justice for All Programme, JAP; Department of International Development, DFID, in collaboration with the Lagos State Ministry of Health.
It is aimed at providing comprehensive and quality services to victims of sexual violence in a compassionate and caring manner, free of charge.
Already, 30 doctors and nurses drawn from various government-owned health institutions in the state are undergoing a two-week training workshop facilitated by a forensic expert, Dr. Sarah Redvers, from St. Mary's Sexual Assault Referral Centre, Manchester, United Kingdom.
Managing Partner, FFJ, Mrs. Itoro Eze-Anaba, told Vanguard, that the centre would provide free medical, psycho-social and follow-up support services to rape victims and sexual assault.
She said: "The centre is going to provide pregnancy tests, initial medical services like possible HIV tests, which will be done with the consent of the victim and all information will be kept confidential and private."
Eze-Anaba lamented that generally, victims of sexual violence found it difficult to report due to inability to pay for cost of treatments and lack of awareness.
She said: "We are going to install a system that will provide disaggregated data so that we will be able to say how many rape victims there are in Lagos State and how many came from Ikorodu, Yaba, and so on."
etc and among all these areas, what age group of people are more prone as victims or even as perpetrators. What social class or religion. All those aggregation will be provided at the same time."
She further listed some of the challenges faced by victims to include; lack of specialized attention, cost of treatment and undue delay in receiving medical attention discourages victims from going to government hospitals.
She said: "SARC will provide psychosocial and counseling support, assessment and information on options available, assistance in planning their next steps, follow up case management support as requested."
Some of the free services to be offered by SARC include; medical examination and treatment for illness and injuries caused by assault, counseling to help cope with emotional and psychological effects of rape, help reporting the incident to police, information on the legal system if a person wants to take case to court and referral to other agencies
On her part, UK- based Forensic expert, Dr. Sarah Redvers, who has managed victims for over seven years, explained that the training would help the doctors and nurses to work in the centre be able to offer quality medical support and counseling and forensic documentation of their examinations.