CSO launches guide for rape, gender violence victims

The Invictus Africa, on Wednesday in Abuja, formally launched the “Survivor’s Guide” to assist survivors of rape and other forms of sexual violence and gender-based violence (SGBV) to access justice and information in the country.

The Executive Director, Invictus Africa, Ms Bukky Shonibare, said that the practical guide 32-page guide, would be a reference for both survivors and active bystanders with actionable information on SGBV.

She said that the increasing cases of SGBV called for the inauguration of the guide by the organization and that the guide would also serve as tools for SGBV survivors to work through the trauma years after.

“The fourth part talks about what to do and not to do when you are sexually abused. Some when they are sexually abuse, they immediately rush to go and wash off. But that washing takes away evidence.

“How do people know that they are not supposed to wash immediately? So, the part on knowing what to do and not do to people when they are sexually abuse. And, the final part talks about where and how to get help, where can you go to get help.

“And, with that we align that with our Orange Pages, which contains over 200 contacts of organizations in Nigeria, who are responding and providing services to survivors of SGBV. That is why we have deemed it necessary to launch the survivor’s guide,” Shonibare said.

She also said that the guide will be made accessible in various local languages or other means of communication to people both in the city and rural areas to assist them when needed.

“So those are types we want to take moving forward in order to make sure that everyone in this society, who has either been abused or potentially to be abused, has access to this document,” she said.

On her part, the Country Director, Amnesty International Nigeria (AI-Nigeria), Osai Ojigho, urged the government at all levels to fully implement the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Acts, to reduce the prevalence of SGBV.

She also called for psycho-social supports to survivors to reduce the trauma caused by the abuse in the society, apart from increase access to free medical examination, use of appropriate language and actions while investigating such cases.

She said, “The other thing is the resources that needs to be located in other to strengthen the justice system. VAPP provides all these and more. Sadly, many states that have even signed are yet to put allocation in their state budgets for implementing this Acts. That is why we are calling on government to put their money, where their mouth is.

Also, the Executive Director, FAME Foundation, Ms Aderonke Bello, said the survivor’s guide would sensitize the public on appropriate actions, when violated and how to seek medical aid and justice to ensure punishment for perpetrators.

“A lot of people do not know what to do, we are all talking about ending violence, but what about the survivors? This is why this book is timely and it will go a long way, which can be used in grassroots community, city center,” she said.

On his part, a gender-rights activist and communication officer at TechHer, Mr. Kelechi Ofim, said that the organization will contribute to care for survivors by working together with other stakeholders to ensure accountability and that VAPP law is upheld in various states.

He also noted that there is a need to improve on the weaknesses of the law, adding that some states are passing a watered-down version of the law.

Also, the Programme Manager, Gender and Democracy, Heinrich Böll Foundation, Tsema Ede, said the launch of the guide will go a long way to help the cause of survivors of SGBV and also prevent case in the country.

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