The first sexual assault referral centre in Nigeria, Mirabel centre, opened its doors to victims of sexual assault. A 10-month-old baby girl and a 70-year-old woman were among a total of 737 survivors of rape and other forms of sexual assault treated and offered psychosocial support free of charge. The baby was sexually molested by the father, while the 70-year-old woman was raped by a boy that ran errands for her in the neighbourhood.
Making this and other revelations yesterday in Lagos, Managing Partner, Partnership for Justice, Mrs. Itoro Eze-Anaba, said the increase in reported cases of sexual violence, particularly, child sexual abuse has become a major concern in the country. Eze-Anaba who acknowledged that sexual violence has become rampant said Mirabel Centre was established to fill the gap created by one of the biggest challenges in seeking justice for the survivors who often lack reliable support services and verifiable data.
According to her, more revealing is the fact that out of the 737victims, the youngest was a 10-month- old and the oldest 70 years old.
“This number is made up of 17 male clients and 720 female clients. Many of these clients are referred to the centre by the police and the hospital, civil society organisations, government agencies and some just walk into the centre for treatment.
“In Lagos, locations with the highest number of assaults include; Kosofe, 91, Alimosho 128, Ikeja 56, Oshodi-Isolo 72, and Agege 80,” she stated. She further lamented that the perpetrators of sexual violence in the country act with impunity due to corruption and incompetency in investigation and prosecution of such cases. Stating that Partnership for Justice offers needed professional care with funding from Justice for All Programme of the Department of International Development, DFID, of the British Council, she frowned that absence of verifiable data and pressures from family and friends has led to many survivors not seeking help nor reporting to the police.