Petition for State Governments to fund Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs)

Currently, there are ONLY 15 Sexual Assault Referral Centers (SARCs) in Nigeria, spread across Adamawa, Akwa-Ibom, Anambra, Borno, Enugu, Jigawa, Kaduna (4 in Kaduna) , Kano, Niger, Lagos (2 in Lagos), and Yobe. All these Centres need more funding commitment from their state governments to continue delivering services to the public, free of charge; and states that don’t have a SARC need government commitment to establish one.

Sexual violence is recognised as the most serious crime affecting women and girls in Nigeria. Despite the size of the problem, there are limited facilities to help victims and the number of cases of sexual violence and rape that are prosecuted are few compared, to the number of victims.

Many victims are reluctant to report these crimes because of their fear of the social stigma associated with rape. Even when these crimes are reported, the police are often reluctant to investigate and rely almost entirely on there being physical 'evidence to prove rape' from the medical examination of the victim. Where no ‘evidence to prove rape’ is found, the police investigation will usually cease. In addition, services provided by many of the institutions who have responsibility as the first line of support and care for victims, are often inadequate and inaccessible.

A Sexual Assault Referral Centre provides the following services to victims of sexual assault:

  • Confidentiality, privacy and a client-focused approach, where the victim is believed and not blamed
  • Immediate, emergency medical treatment
  • Forensic medical examination services by specially trained doctors and midwives (who prepare reports that are admissible as evidence where appropriate)
  • Advice on sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and the risk of pregnancy
  • Immediate and on-going counselling support from people experienced in the specialised field of counselling victims of sexual abuse
  • Support in contacting the police, social welfare department or CSOs where appropriate and where the victim requests it
  • Advice and on-going support throughout any police investigation and prosecution

There are currently, 15 Sexual Assault Referral Centers (SARCs) in Nigeria, spread across Adamawa, Akwa-Ibom, Anambra, Borno, Enugu, Jigawa, Kaduna (4 in Kaduna), Kano, Niger, Lagos (2 in Lagos), and Yobe states.

Since the first SARC was established in 2013, over 10,000 people have been assisted by the SARCs, over 75% of whom have been girls under 18 years and nearly 60%, girls under 14 years old.

Victims can 'walk in' to the SARC or can be referred by any number of agencies including the Police, Ministries of Gender / Women Affairs, Hospitals, CSO/NGOs, etc. All cases are treated with confidentiality and no victim is required to report their case to any other agency if they do not want to (if the victim is a minor, reporting to the appropriate authorities is mandatory). The SARCs provide services free of charge.

The services that SARCs provide are essential, urgent and lifesaving, fulfilling a critical service delivery gap for the vulnerable and disadvantaged, free of charge. State governments need to commit to funding, replicating and sustaining SARC services in each state. State governments that already have SARCs needs to direct resources to keep it running effectively States that don’t have a SARC need commitment from their government to establish one.

With your help, we can call attention of state and federal governments to the need to fund, existing and new SARCs in every state.

Sign this petition and add your voice to the campaign for state governments to demonstrate greater commitment to addressing the rising problem of sexual violence. We are aiming to achieve a million signatures!

We thank you for your support - we can do this together!

HerStoryOurStory Team

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