The Rule of Law and Anti-corruption (RoLAC) programme is working to enhance access to justice for women, children and persons with disabilities. As part of its efforts, RoLAC supported the establishment of a sexual assault referral centre (SARC) - known as the Ntasi Centre - in Anambra state.
The centre, located in the Enugu-Ukwu General Hospital, provides immediate medical assistance to victims of sexual assault. It also conducts structured medical forensic examinations that can be used in prosecuting perpetrators of sexual based crimes. The SARC received its first victims on its opening day: 17 September 2019.
Police records and analysis by civil society partners indicate that many parts of the state record high numbers of sexual offences against women and children. Unfortunately, many of these victims do not know how to report sexual offences and where to turn to for support. The Natsi Centre aims to fill this gap.
The opening of the SARC is the culmination of efforts initiated in May 2018, including the identification of a suitable location and hospital; the signing of an MOU with the state Ministry of Health, Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Women Affairs and Children Affairs; the renovation, furnishing and equipping of the centre; and the training of 40 staff, including medical doctors, nurses, counsellors, lawyers and sign language interpreters.
A number of structures have been put in place to support the centre, including the SARC Steering Committee, who are responsible for supervising the operations. The multi-agency 'sexual and gender based violence response team' and the 'Violence Against Persons Prohibitions Act' implementation coordination committee have been tasked with sensitizing the public on sexual based violence and promoting the SARC within the state.
'The Ntasi Centre will restore fundamental human rights and provide help for victims of sexual assault in the state…’ Dr Willie Obiano, Governor, Anambra state