If you’ve been following the news, then you know that Nigeria is deep in the throes of a sexual assault/rape epidemic. Some experts argue that this crisis hasn’t just sprung up out of nowhere, but rather has been happening for decades, but has only been brought to the light as a result of social media and citizen journalism. Whatever the case might be, what is undeniable is that the government must intervene and lend its weight to the fight by non-governmental organizations and individuals to punish offenders, provide support for victims and educate the entire population, especially in North Eastern states like Adamawa, worsened by the Boko Haram crisis.
The Lagos state government has championed this cause, being the first state to create a government agency dedicated specifically to cases of this nature. The Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT), has proven invaluable to the fight against sexual assault and rape and has inspired the government to institute courts that specifically handle cases of this nature to circumvent the bottlenecks of the traditional court system. The governor of Adamawa State, Muhammadu Bindow, seems to be taking cues from the Lagos state government because the governor just commissioned a new Sexual Assault Referral Centre, the Adamawa Hope Centre in the city’s capital Yola, to provide much needed support for victims. The centre was commissioned by the state’s first Lady, Maryam Jibrilla and attended by the most senior medical personnel in the state. At the commissioning the the Chief Medical Doctor of the Yola Specialist Hospital, Bala Saidu stated that the capital alone receives an average of two rape cases a week, as well as cases of kidnapping, torture, molestation and trafficking.
The centre’s focus is and will remain on the victims, and in a culture of victim blaming exacerbated by the terrorism crisis in the state, spaces specifically made for victims to seek help and counselling couldn’t be any more timely.