The National Economic Council (NEC) has approved the establishment of Sexual Assault Referral Centres in Nigeria.
Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule said this while briefing newsmen after a virtual meeting of the council on Thursday in Abuja.
The virtual NEC meeting was presided over by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo.
According to him, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouk, made the presentation to the council on establishment and management of Sexual Assault Referral Centres.
“This has to do clearly with some of the challenges we are having in the country today, when it comes to rape and the effect of rape on our own children.
“The presentation was actually to inform NEC on how sexual assault can have a devastating impact on every aspect of the survivors.
“There can also be long-term psychological and physical impact as was presented by the minister.
“They include depression, anxiety, and the inability of these kinds of people to sleep. So, the council has taken the matter very seriously and it is addressing and is looking at the establishment of these centres.
“And there have been a lot of encouragement on the part of various governors to ensure they also assist the minister in setting up this.’’
The governor said the issues of women, girls and boys that had also suffered injustice and sexual violence were discussed, noting that the recent report had shown that the rate of sexual violence in some parts of Nigeria was on the increase.
“According to the poll conducted in July 2019, one of every three girls would have experienced at least one form of sexual assault/abuse or the other in the last 25 years.
“The government, therefore, has acknowledged the importance of multi-partnership and collaborative efforts regarding improving criminal justice as far as the area of sexual assault is fair in Nigeria.
“The goals of the centres that we have mentioned actually will limit this kind of physical and mental health consequences of rape.
Sule said the centres would also look at immediate and continuous counseling support including the risk of harm and vulnerability assessment from the people experienced in the specialty areas.
According to him, the centres will support in contacting the police, the social welfare department and civil society organisations where appropriate.
He said they would render follow up services and there would also be 24 hours accessibility and referrals.
The centres also will serve victims of recent rape, serious assault, regardless of gender because these kinds of assault are not only for girls. Sometimes, boys are also involved.
“The centres are going to be limited to victims over the age of 14 or 16, while others will see paediatric cases and younger teenagers depending on availability of resources and local arraignment in place for children services.
“The centre has also received support of over 6,050 survivors of sexual abuse as well as children,’’ Sule said.