British Council

June 2021

On 8 June 2021, the British Council EU Affairs Team and the European Commission International Partnerships InfoPoint, in collaboration with the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) and Managing Conflict in Nigeria (MCN) programmes, hosted a virtual event on the critical role of sexual assault referral centres (SARCs) in addressing sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in Nigeria.

The aim was to discuss how to better address the challenge of SGBV, especially in fragile and conflict affected contexts. Over 100 participants joined the virtual event.

Presenters shared an overview of the SARC model and how it operates in the Nigerian context; the successes, challenges, funding opportunities, and lessons learned from SARCs in Lagos, Sokoto and Northeast Nigeria; and the broader response ecosystem in response to SGBV, including the Sex Offenders Register. 

The SARCs provide confidential, free of charge and client focused services in a one-stop centre. Victims benefit from medical, psychological and legal support. 
There are currently 30 SARCs across 18 states in Nigeria. The SARCs have assisted over 17,800 victims of sexual assault, over 70% of whom are under the age of 18 years old (between July 2013 and March 2021). The SARCs are now a network in Nigeria and exchange good practices on an ongoing basis.  

 “One of the few takeaways from the pandemic is that it put more of a spotlight on the issues of GBV as we saw how the circumstances exacerbated the existing issues and led to a public outcry.”

Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, Head of the European Union Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS 

“Building on partnership with key stakeholders and non-state actors, including the private sector, is imperative for expanding and sustaining the work of the SARCs.”

Prof Jay Ezeilo, Chairperson Network of Sexual Assault Referral Centres in Nigeria

“The purpose of the Sexual Offender Database is to maintain data on perpetrators and ensure justice is served for all convicts. It is the key solution for reporting and curbing sexual offences in Nigeria.”

Dr Amina Salihu, Gender Consultant and Adviser

“Survivors will seek help if they trust the system and the Mirabel Centre has been working hard to achieve this. We encourage other SARCs to take up more partnerships with governments and CSOs to create a system that can be trusted.”

Itoro Eze Anaba, Founder, Mirabel Centre, Lagos

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