In a united effort to conclude the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, Spring of Hope for the Girlchild Development Initiative (SHoGDI), alongside Lawyers Alert Nigeria and Bengonet Rural Development Initiative, hosted a press briefing to update the public on strides taken towards the operationalization of the Benue Sexual Assault Referral Center (SARC). The assembly also served as an earnest plea to the Benue State Government to translate assurances into swift action by activating the SARC.
Over the preceding two months, SHoGDI and its partners engaged in a series of dialogues with key stakeholders, including the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Welfare, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Justice and Public Order, the Ministry of Humanitarian and Disaster Management, the Gender Unit of the Police, the Benue State House of Assembly in Makurdi, and other relevant entities. The primary focus of these discussions was to advocate for the prompt activation of the Benue SARC and the urgent review of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law (VAPP-Law).
According to information shared by SHoGDI, the Benue SARC, once operational, is poised to provide a comprehensive range of services tailored for survivors and victims of sexual and gender-based violence. These services include medical care, psychosocial support, shelter, and justice support. However, the delay in its launch has allowed perpetrators to evade justice, leaving survivors grappling with the aftermath of their traumatic experiences.
The advocacy efforts led by SHoGDI and its partners aimed at urging the Benue State Government to fulfill its commitment to activating the SARC. This commitment was made to enhance the support system for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in the region.
During the press briefing, representatives from the organizations emphasized the pressing need for the swift operationalization of the Benue SARC, highlighting the urgency of addressing the existing service gap for survivors. The delay impedes the delivery of justice and perpetuates an environment where perpetrators evade accountability.
As the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence conclude, the collective call to action echoes: activate the Benue SARC promptly to ensure survivors receive the necessary care and support. Perpetrators are held accountable for their actions. The organizations remain steadfast in their commitment to advocacy until tangible steps are taken to address this urgent issue.
- By Ken Gbados.