By Rebecca Ejifoma
In a bid to curb the growing spate of sexual violence in Nigeria, the Mirabel Centre, Nigeria’s first Sexual Assault Referral Centre, has leveraged partnerships with ride hailing company, Bolt and emergency reporting app, Aabo.
The lockdown owing to COVID-19 brought numerous unfortunate realities to bear, one of which was the erratic increase in the rate of sexual violence across the country.
Earlier in June, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu was reported to have disclosed that the Nigerian Police recorded 717 cases of rape between January and May 2020. In a statement credited to the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development as reported by Premium Times, Nigeria recorded over 3,600 cases of rape during the lockdown. This is a pandemic within a pandemic.
Speaking on the rise in rape cases during the COVID-19 lockdown, Itoro Eze-Anaba, the founder of Mirabel Centre, said, “Before COVID-19, rape was a pandemic. When we started in 2013, we used to see an average of 20 people a month. Sometime in 2015, the number started to increase to the extent that before the pandemic, we were seeing 85 people a month, sometimes 100.
“And it was becoming routine to see a 100 or more every month. The only thing is that the reportage increased during COVID-19 so people were encouraged to speak out.”
At the heart of these partnerships with technology based organisation, Bolt and Aabo, is the drive to prevent cases of sexual violence, rescue individuals from dangerous environments, and provide immediate support to survivors of sexual violence.
The Mirabel Centre partnership with Bolt will help the sexual assault referral centre solve the challenge of mobility and getting survivors to the centre in a way that is safe. Survivors who require help or individuals who are in environments they need to immediately remove themselves from can contact the Mirabel Centre and have a ride hailed for them with a unique code that ensures they are taken directly to the centre at no personal cost to them.
On the other hand, Aabo is an application that allows survivors report cases of sexual abuse by clicking on one button. Reporting via the app triggers an emergency alert that helps the Mirabel Centre pinpoint a survivor’s location and inform a trusted contact while providing evacuation support in cases where it is needed. The ‘Aabo’ app is available for download on Google Play and AppStore.
Mirabel Centre, managed by Partnership for Justice, is the pioneer Sexual Assault Referral Centre in Nigeria with a mandate to provide free medical care and psychosocial support for survivors of sexual violence in Nigeria. Since its inception in 2013, the Mirabel Centre has served over 5,600 survivors of sexual violence.