By Chijioke Okoronkwo
The National Economic Council (NEC) has endorsed the establishment of Sexual Assault Referral Centres in the country.
Gov. Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa briefed State House correspondents on Thursday after a virtual NEC meeting in Abuja.
The virtual NEC meeting was presided over by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo.
Sule said Hajia Sadiya Farouk, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, made a presentation to the council on establishment and management of Sexual Assault Referral Centres.
“This has to do clearly with some of the challenges we are having in the country today, when it comes to rape and the effect of rape on our own children.
“The presentation was actually to inform NEC on how sexual assault can have a devastating impact on every aspect of the survivors.
“There can also be long-term psychological and physical impact as was presented by the minister.
“They include depression, anxiety, inability of these kinds of people to sleep. So, the council has taken the matter very seriously and it is addressing and is looking at the establishment of these centres.
“And there have been a lot of encouragement on the part of various governors to ensure they also assist the minister in setting up this.’’
The governor said the issues women, girls and boys that had also suffered injustice and sexual violence were discussed.
He said the recent report had shown that the rate of sexual violence in some parts of Nigeria was on the increase.
“ According the poll conducted in July 2019, one of every three girls would have experienced at least one form of sexual assault/abuse or the other in the last 25 years.
“The government, therefore, has acknowledged the importance of multi-partnership and collaborative efforts regarding improving criminal justice as far as the area of sexual assault is fair in Nigeria.
“The goals of the centres that we have mentioned actually will limit this kind of physical and mental health consequences of rape.
Sule said the centres would also look at immediate and continuous counseling support including the risk of harm and vulnerability assessment from the people experienced in the specialty areas.
According to him, the centres will support in contacting the police, the social welfare department and civil society organisations where appropriate.
He said they would render follow up services and there would also be 24 hours accessibility and referrals.
`The centres, also, will serve the victims of recent rape, serious assault, regardless of the gender because these kinds of assault are not only for girls. Sometimes, boys are also involved.
“The centres are going to be limited to victims over the age of 14 or 16, while others will see pediatric cases and younger teenagers depending on availability of resources and local arraignment in place for children services.
“The start off cost of the centres is N2.5 monthly which covered the cost of an average of 50 clients including administration cost.
“The centre has also received support of over 6,050 survivors of sexual abuse as well as children,’’ Sule said. (NAN)