It happened on a cold December night in 2017, 15-year-old Seyi was raped by her uncle as she prepared for bed. The incident left her completely broken and It was difficult to come to terms with the realization that her uncle could do that to her.
She was distraught and it was obvious she needed immediate help but she felt there was nowhere to turn. This is the reality of many sexual abuse survivors in Nigeria.
According to the statistics revealed by the National Survey on Violence against Children in Nigeria, one in four females experience sexual violence in childhood, and 84% of girls abused do not know where to seek help. Hence the need for well-equipped Sexual Assault Referral Centres where survivors can seek help.
Sexual violence often results in psychological, physical and emotional distress. Some cases even result in fatalities either from shock or severe injury. These perpetrators are often times, not strangers but well known and trusted individuals; from family members like fathers and uncles to friends, acquaintances and other trusted members of authority like teachers. The relationship with the perpetrator makes it even more traumatic for survivors to speak out against her perpetrator.
In response to this growing epidemic, the Women at Risk International Foundation – WARIF, one of the leading anti-sexual and gender-based violence organizations in the Country, has the vision to curb the high incidence of rape, sexual violence and human trafficking occurring among young girls and women across Nigeria. The organization was established by Dr Kemi DaSilva Ibru and addresses the issue through its unique holistic “WARIF Approach”. Specifically designed and impactful initiatives under 3 chosen pillars – Health, Education and Community Service – are implemented across communities in a targeted manner and the impact of these are measured to ensure they are sustainable and are met with significant degrees of success.
Since its establishment, WARIF has provided sexual assault survivors through the WARIF Centre- a free rape crisis centre, clinical and forensic medical services, legal aid, psychosocial counselling, and social welfare support. The organisation also continuously strives to prevent the incidence of sexual violence in adolescent school children through educational programs (WARIF Educational School Program) in secondary schools across communities for both the boy and girl child and seeks to redress the injustices occurring in rural communities by training community leaders such as traditional birth attendants, as first respondents, so cases are now identified and effectively managed in these areas as well.
WARIF provides a voice for the multiple of women forced to remain silent, a safe haven for those at risk and in need and a solution to curb and reduce the prevalence of this menace in our society.
WARIF is located at 6, Turton Street, off Thorburn Avenue, Yaba and can be reached on their 24-hour confidential helpline -08092100009
You can find out more about WARIF at www.warifng.org