In a country where many seem undecided about how to treat victims of sexual assault and gender based violence, the Ekiti state government has proven itself revolutionary, leading the charge in supporting victims, providing them justice and ensuring that sexual offenders are not only punished but also publicly named and shamed. This is an initiative that has been personally championed by Bisi Fayemi, the First Lady of Ekiti, a woman who has shed all the artifice her office affords her to advocate for women and victims of sexual violence everywhere. Her work and the efforts of the state to launch the country’s first state run sexual offender’s register, which is regularly updated and routinely published is commendable in any sphere.
But prosecution and justice is only one part of a multi-system solution to sexual violence. Many victims of sexual violence often are subjected to intense trauma that changes them for the rest of their lives and hinders their ability to fully reintegrate into society. Research has shown that the kind of care victims receive in the first 24 hours after their assault plays a huge role in how they process their assault and resulting trauma and can be the difference between healing and dissociation. This is why it is important that the Ekiti state government is also thinking holistically in terms of care for victims of sexual assault and gender based violence.
UPDATE: The Government of Ekiti State has established the State Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) to serve as a free, one-stop, survivor-centred initiative that prioritises the rights and needs of survivors of sexual violence. #StateOfEmergencyGBV #SayNoToSexualViolence pic.twitter.com/0PM4Y0xNAm
— Government of Ekiti State (@ekitistategov) June 23, 2020
With a new Sexual Assault referral centre, dedicated primarily to care for victims of assault and with the right personnel and equipment to collect samples in case of rape, samples that are vital to conviction, we hope to see a significant rise in the number of arrests and eventual convictions for victims. We are also excited about the prospect of better care for victims of sexual assault and gender based violence. Perhaps, other states can take a leaf from Ekiti State.