The Yola Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), also known as ‘Hope Centre’ has called for an improvement in the number prosecution of rape and other sexual related assaults in the state.
The Manager of the centre, Dr Usha Saxena, made this appeal on Wednesday in an interview with journalists in Yola.
He disclosed that the centre has attended to 224 rape survivors since its establishment in March 2018 to date.
Saxena said that the centre, established and equipped with the support of British Council under its Managing Conflict in Nigeria (MCN) programme, has been providing free treatment, counseling and legal services, among others, to survivors of Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) in the state.
Saxena, however, said that out of the 224 cases recorded by the centre, only 11 were undergoing prosecution; a development she said only the police and judiciary could explain better.
“That is why we need a bigger centre or more offices so that we can have desk officers from the police and lawyers in the Centre to facilitate prosecution of suspects.
“We also want such cases to be taken to High Courts, instead of magistrates or area courts that are not competent to handle rape cases,” Saxena said.
She commended the British Council and Pathfinder for their support in providing facilities to the centre.
Saxena added that the EU-Spotlight Initiative, a global partnership between United Nations and European Union to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls has also shown interest to support the centre.
“The Spotlight Initiative had already conducted forensic training for doctors and nurses of the centre.
“Also trained by Spotlight are counsellors of the centre,” Saxena said.
She explained that Spotlight would also rehabilitate a hostel provided by Adamawa Ministry of Women Affairs to serve as ‘Safe Space’, for survivors of rape who have no where to go or needed to stay briefly to complete their treatment.
Saxena lauded the recently launched National Sexual Offenders Register (SOR) for the compilation of data of those convicted for sexual violence, noting that the development will contribute positively in addressing sexual violence.
She urged Adamawa to key into it so as to give the fight against sexual violence more bite in the state.