Sexual assault referral centres - commonly known as SARCs - provide crucial services for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). The Managing Conflict in Nigeria (MCN) Programme has supported the establishment of SARCs in three focal states.
Supporting the most vulnerable
According to the SARC incident reporting, most cases of sexual offences are committed against females (79 per cent) and young people under 18 years old (77 per cent).
SARCs are led by steering committees made up of state and non state actors, including members from state ministries of health, justice, women affairs and youth development; the Nigeria Police Force, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, and representatives of civil society and media organisations. Each SARC has a strategic action plan to guide their efforts - developed with MCN support.
Strengthening community support
MCN initiatives aimed at mobilising awareness and interest among diverse stakeholders to combat SGBV have continued to yield positive results. Steering committees have continued to promote the benefits of the SARCs, engage community stakeholders, and encourage their replication. A positive indicator is the growing diversity of agencies and actors that are making referrals. The SARCs have attracted keen interest by stakeholders in the three states. In Borno State, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, Executive Governor visited the SARC and voiced the State Government’s commitment to sustaining the good work of the centre. The Governments of Yobe and Adamawa States plan to provide support for their existing SARCs and establish additional centres in the states. Furthermore, the Presidential Committee on North East Initiatives has donated two ambulances to the SARCs in Damaturu and Yola. The ambulances will help provide a more effective response to SGBV by transporting survivors to the centres.
The steering committees are also engaging religious leaders to raise awareness about SGBV and SARC services. A poster and flyer campaign has been carried out in some religious insitutions.
As at January 2019, the SARCs in the three target states provided services to 375 survivors of sexual assault. Clients have been provided much-needed medical, legal, psycho-social and economic support. Forty-two cases have been actioned by responsible agencies. Forensic medical reports (243) have been submitted to the police to assist with the prosecution of offenders. Two cases have concluded with the conviction of the perpetrators. An estimated 1,929 individuals have benefited from this intervention.
'Most cases of sexual offences are committed against females and young people under 18 years old...'