HACEY, EMpower & High-Level Experts Join Forces Against Sexual Violence
In a bid to stand against the prevalence of the scourge in the society, Hacey Health Initiative with support from the Stars Foundation Girl Award and EMpower as well as Access Bank Plc organised a symposium earlier this week on responding to sexual violence in Lagos State and also launch a new program platform called 'Salvus'.
The symposium is themed, "Building conversations around preventing and responding to sexual violence".
Salvus (meaning safe), is a web-based platform developed to facilitate safe and confidential reporting of sexual violence incidents and provide access to available comprehensive support service and relevant information. The Salvus Platform hosts a database of sexual violence support service providers that survivors can connect to and receive the support they need.
Basically, 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.
Discussants at the symposium include: Mrs. Olubukola Salami, Director, Office of Public Defender, Lagos State, Mrs. Itoro Anaba, Executive Director, Mirabel Center, Mrs. Ada Agina-Ude, Executive Director, Gender and Development Agenda and Mr. Paul Ojajuni of the Hacey Health Initiative.
According to the UN Women report, "an estimated 246 million girls and boys experience school-related violence every year and one in four girls say that they never feel comfortable using school latrines, according to a survey on youth conducted across four regions. The extent and forms of school-related violence that girls and boys experience differ, but evidence suggests that girls are at greater risk of sexual violence, harassment and exploitation. In addition to the resulting adverse psychological, sexual and reproductive health consequences, school-related gender-based violence is a major obstacle to universal schooling and the right to education for girls"
Although the scourge of sexual violence does not spare men and boys, women and girls remain major targets of rape, sexual enslavement and other forms of sexual violence. For these victims and survivors in many conflict settings on the continent, apart from the recognition of their physical and psychological suffering, their healing also requires the support of their families and communities.
On top of enabling victims and survivors to get access to medical and psychological help, Salvus platform is coming into the picture inorder to support community dialogue and social services for ensuring the acceptance and full integration of victims and survivors.
According to the Director of Gender Development Program at HACEY, Ms. Rhoda Rhobinson, "for us at Hacey Health initiative, the vision Salvus is a dream come true. Considering the unending brainstorming sessions as well as burning urge to make our country a safer and better place for all and sundry. Moreso, Sexual violence is a broad issue in our society that needs all hands to be on deck inorder to be called to order. This is not just about us at HACEY, we have worked with different civil society and government agency to ensure that this solution doesn't just combat sexual violence today, but remains sustainable to ensure this is not just a one-time solution"
According to Rhobinson, 'Salvus' would enable victims and survivors of sexual violence get access to medical and psychological help.
She said: "We have worked with different civil society and government agencies to ensure that this solution does not just combat sexual violence today, but remains sustainable to ensure this is not just a one-time solution. Salvus is a dream come true. "
Rhoda also expresses the organisation's condemnation of all forms of sexual violence in conflict as grave violations of human and peoples' rights, also, urging the government to improve justice systems to help end rape and sexual violence in the society.
HACEY is a registered development organization focused on improving the health and productivity of under-served population in Nigeria. Their mission is to empower and support children, women and young people to lead healthy lives through capacity building, advocacy, research and education.