…Says training ‘ll help victims of sexual assault receive local support
BY Emmanuel Elebeke
The UK government offices based in Nigeria have organised four days of training workshops for all 33 Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) and their main stakeholders in Nigeria.
These workshops were developed to offer critical support to SARCs who provide vital assistance and forensic and medical services to children, young people, women, and men who have been sexually abused, assaulted, or raped.
SARCs also support police and prosecution responses to crimes of sexual violence, abuse and exploitation.
33 SARC managers and stakeholders at both state and federal level participated in the workshops.
This included officials from Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Ministry of Health, the Nigerian Police Force, as well as staff from hospitals.
Also those who participated in the training include, the NGOs, including Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC), International Federation of Women Lawyers, Nigeria (FIDA), Nigerian Civil Defence Corps, and UN Women also joined the workshops.
The workshops were organised by the Consular Section of the British High Commission in Abuja (BHC) and the British Deputy High Commission in Lagos (DBHC).
They were paid for through the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development (FCDO’s) Consular Project Fund (CPF), in collaboration with the British Council, who supported the BHC in the preparation of these workshops.
The workshops were delivered by visiting field experts, Alison Eaton, a senior retired UK Police Officer and International Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) expert, and Dr Isabelle Kerr, former Centre Manager of Glasgow & Clyde Rape Crisis in Scotland.
The workshops complemented the work being done through the EU Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) and Managing Conflict (MCN) programmes implemented by the British Council.
In his presentation, Alison Eaton and Dr Isabelle Kerr shared outcomes from findings from their recently completed SARCs baseline assessments, coordinated by Consular Section to map SARC services across Nigeria with the aim of improving practice, increasing resources and ensuring improved access to SARCs for survivors across the country.
The presenters facilitated the discussion and consultation among SARCs and stakeholders to identify areas of good practice, highlight challenges and gaps in service with a view to standardise practice across the country.
“The level of commitment and passion shown by managers and staff within SARCs is enormous and shows how the grit and determination of those who believe in survivor justice and wellbeing can achieve so much. State and government investment in policy and strategic direction for this work is crucial but we must not forget or ignore the frontline services that are being delivered by small, dedicated teams under sometimes challenging and under-resourced conditions. Both Alison and I were honoured to be asked to contribute our years of experience to this work,” said Dr Isabelle Kerr.
On her part, British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing said: “It is incredibly encouraging to see how much work is being done to provide accessible services to survivors of rape and Sexual and Gender Based Violence in Nigeria. We were delighted to welcome Alison Eaton and Dr Kerr from the UK to build on this. Thank you to the British Council for the support they have offered to help to set up these workshops for us.
“Preventing sexual violence is a really important issue for me and for the UK government. The UK Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, has put this at the absolute top of her priorities. And I am mandated to really engage and lean in on this to support efforts to ensure that all women are given a genuine chance to realise their potential and gain the support they need to do so.”