By Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
In order to check the growing cases of sexual assault, the Borno State Government in collaboration with the European Union (EU) and the British Council has opened a referral clinic to attend to issues of rape and sexual exploitation.
The referral clinic named Nelewa Centre is one of the programmes the EU is executing in order to enhance state and community level conflict management capacity in North-eastern Nigeria.
The centre, established at the Umaru Shehu General Hospital in Maiduguri with modern equipment and funded by the state government, the EU and the British Council will treat victims of rape and other sexual violence, the Borno State Commissioner for Health, Dr Haruna Mshelia, said.
The wife of the state governor, Hajiya Nana Shettima, who inaugurated operations at the centreÂ Monday, said recent report indicates that sexual assaults are on the increase in Borno, adding that the prevalence of sexual exploitation was largely caused by the eight years of insurgency in the state.
She said: â€œSociety must rise to condemn this vice,” while disclosing that services at the centre are free.
She urged victims and their relations to feel free to approach the centre as notable professionals would be on hand to attend to them, as she
promised to continue to fight for the good of the society.
The Chief Medical Director, Hospital Management Board, Dr Kwaya Bura, said the centre was sponsored by the British Council and Borno State government.
He said: â€œSexual violence has become prevalent in Borno especially with the conflict situation. One in every three women experiences sexual violence.Â Physical abuse, rape and sexual issues are becoming rampant in Borno and unfortunately, the culprits usually go scot free. Coming from conflict, it is expected that Borno will have a perculiar case.â€
The Coordinator of the EU Programme, Managing Conflicts in the North East, Prof. Mohammed Tabiu of Beyero University Kano, disclosed that it will run for four years.
He said the EU is interested in managing conflict, improving the capacities for management of conflict at the grassroots, and in empowerment of the youth, adding that the programme was the first of its kind in the North-east.