The fight against gender-based violence received a boost recently in Lagos as Mirabel Centre, a sexual Assault Referral Centre, unveiled celebrities as Goodwill Ambassadors against gender–violence.
This is coming on the heels of rising trends of violence against women and girl child all over the world. The unveiling ceremony held during a recent workshop organised in Lagos by the United Kingdom Department For International Development, DFID, funded Justice for All , J4A, programme in collaboration with the Lagos State government, Partnership for Justice and Women Aid Collective, WACOL.
Presenting the Goodwill Ambassadors, the Managing Partner, Partnership for Justice, and Executive Director, Lagos Mirabel Centre, Mrs. Itoro Eze-Anaba, explained that the Goodwill Ambassadors was created to strengthen the campaign against gender –violence as well as give voices to the voiceless.
She listed pressure from perpetrators against seeking for justice, police’s preference for settling cases and demand for money from clients, inability to access hospital services outside working hours, among others.
Among celebrities unveiled at the workshop with the theme, “A Coordinated Approach to Sexual and Gender-based Violence in Lagos State include; Ice Prince, Bimbo Akintola, Bez Idakunle, Koffi Tha Guru, Remi Diagbare, Wana Udobang and Miss Century Nigeria, and Queen Uba.
Mirabel Centre has within its establishment provided medical and counselling services to 361 victims of sexual violence; including 220 under the age of 18 and that the alleged perpetrators in 25 cases have been charged to court.
Eze-Anaba called for collaborative efforts to reduce the incidence of Sexual and Sexual Gender-based Violence in the country as well as funding from other organisations in Nigeria as J4A funding will stop in 2015.
Speaking, the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Raji Fashola, who was represented by Dr. Olubi Abimbola, noted the importance of gender-based violence adding that, “Gender-based violence is a global pandemic.” Fashola while pointing out that women and girls are the most vulnerable to gender-based violence added that, the act could be stamped out through education, empowerment, equality, justice and security.
On his part, National Programme Coordinator for J4A, Bob Arnot, called for sustainable impacts of the activities of the various stakeholders to ensure that they are replicated in other states in the country.
The Lagos Mirabel Centre is the first Sexual Assault Referral Centre, SARC, in Nigeria.
The Attorney General of Lagos State, Ade Ipaye, stated: “We have always been in the forefront of rights protection, law reform and law enforcement, initiating positive trends for the rest of the country. It is therefore imperative for the state government to take action against these crimes so as to ensure the safety and security of all residents and visitors,” he stated.