The Managing Conflict in Nigeria (MCN) Programme is supporting stakeholders in Yobe state to make progress in their advocacy efforts for the policy and practice changes required to address sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). The initiative is being led by the steering committee of the sexual assault referral centre (SARC).
More SARCs to respond to increased demand
Following the recognition that more SARCs were required to address the increase in incidences of SGBV, the steering committee engaged the State Ministry of Health to advocate for the establishment of additional centres. As a result, the state government has designated seven health facilities where SARCs will be established. Medical personnel have already been deployed to service the centres.
The steering committee worked to strengthen the penalty for sexual offences. The state legislature passed into law a reformed penal code, which stipulates heavier penalties for perpetrators of sexual offences, especially against minors. The heavy sanction for offences against minors was considered necessary due to its high prevalence. Records from the SARCs show that 80% of clients were minors aged 1-17 years.
Reformed hearing process
The committee also contributed to a review of the court proceedings on cases of sexual offences. Reports revealed that medical doctors were declining invitations to courts to serve as witnesses due to long and protracted hearings. The Yobe State Judiciary took action and has amended the hearing process. Medical personnel are now given preference in court sessions to enable them to return to their duties in the hospitals.
'Records from the SARCs show that 80% of clients were minors aged 1-17 years...'