WARIF takes sexual violence education to schools
Startled by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) report released last year that over 60 per cent of Nigerian children suffer sexual, physical and other forms of abuse in society and one in four girls experience sexual violence in the country, the Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF) in conjunction with The Guardian is poised to tackle sexual violence in Nigeria.
To this end, a four-week enlightenment campaign against gender-based violence will commence on May 31 in select public schools in Lagos District 4, comprising secondary school pupils from Yaba, Surulere and Apapa areas of the state.
During a facility tour of the WARIF Centre by The Guardian, a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) located at Yaba, which opened to the public on December 1, 2016, founder and visionary of WARIF, Dr. Kemi DaSilva-Ibru, said the pilot scheme was in response to series of sexual assaults, rape and human trafficking involving children, young girls and women.
According to her, the recent incident four students of Ireti Grammar School, Falomo, Lagos, arrested for sexually assaulting their female counterparts on their last day in school over what has been described as a ‘tradition’ of male final year students to perpetrate such acts on their female colleagues on the streets of Lagos, was a validation of the UNICEF report.
“It terribly goes to show the belief system and behaviours these young children are carrying into adulthood and something needs to be urgently done to address the root cause of that ugly incident so it doesn’t repeat itself in any school in Nigeria. This is why we are looking for funds and sponsors as we plan to roll out the awareness program in schools and reset the mindset of tomorrow’s leaders, fathers and parents,” she said.
She explained that the services provided by the centre included medical treatment and forensic medical examinations; psychosocial counselling and social welfare such as accommodation, legal aid and vocational skills training.
“All the services are offered by a team of highly qualified medical doctors and social workers/ counsellors; in a warm and friendly environment that serves as a safe haven for all women in need,” she said.