Peter Uzoho and Mabel Benson
Following wide spread of rape and other forms of sexual violence in Nigeria, government at all levels have been advised to develop strong justice system to tackle the social menace in the country.
The call was made in Lagos recently by a coalition of civil society organisations and agencies of government at a symposium/launch of an anti-sexual violence platform (Salvus), organised by HACEY Health Initiative with support from the Stars Foundation Girl Award, Empower and Access Bank Plc, with the themed, â€˜Building conversations around preventing and responding to sexual violenceâ€™.
Speaking at the event, Director, Gender Development Programme, HACEY, Ms. Rhoda Rhobinson, said the organisation condemned in strong terms all forms of sexual violence in conflict, describing such actions as grave violations of human and peoplesâ€™ rights.
Robinson explained that Salvus, which means â€˜safeâ€™, was the organisationâ€™s vision driven by unending brainstorming sessions as well as burning urge to make Nigeria a safer and better place for all and sundry.
â€œMoreso, sexual violence is a broad issue in our society that needs all hands to be on deck in order to checkmate it. This is not just about us at HACEY, we have worked with different civil societies and government agencies to ensure that this solution doesnâ€™t just combat sexual violence today, but remains sustainable to ensure this is not just a one-time solution,” Robinson said.
According to her, Salvus is a web-based platform developed to facilitate safe and confidential reporting of sexual violence incidents and provides access to available comprehensive support service and relevant information. â€œThe Salvus Platform hosts a database of sexual violence support service providers that survivors can connect to and receive the support they need.
â€œBasically, the platform seeks to: ease off access and secure transmission of information to service providers; dissemination of information on sexual violence and support services to users, enable access to service providers required by users by sending requests to as many as needed on any number of support services they are in need of and pave way for service providers connecting and collaborating with each other to provide comprehensive care to survivors on the platform and share knowledge,â€ she added.
Also speaking, Director of Social Welfare, Lagos State Ministry of Youth Development, Mrs. Laide Latonwo, said more awareness needed to be created so that people would be more informed and take precautionary measures to prevent sexual violence in the country, noting that â€œinformation and awareness is a lot of powerâ€ in the context.
Latonwo revealed that one of the reasons why much victory had not been recorded in the fight against sexual violence was because of the societal stigma associated to rape and related cases.
Lending his voice, Senior Programme Officer for Africa and Russia, Empower, Mr. Theodoros Chronopoulos, noted that building a robust system to deal with sexual violence required a number of things, stressing that â€œa confidential and accessible reporting mechanism is an important piece of the puzzle. It is my hope that Salvus will
prove to be an important development in this context,â€ he added.