By Sola Ogundipe
THE Women At Risk International Foundation, WARIF, and the Lagos State Police Command have teamed up to tackle the high incidence of sexual assault, rape and human trafficking occurring among young girls and women across the State and environs.
Last week, during an interactive session with the State Commissioner of Police, Mr Fatai Owoseni, and Area Commanders from across Lagos, Founder of the Centre, Dr. Kemi Da-Silva Ibru gave a presentation on the importance of a society where women are free from sexual assault, violence and rape.
At the forum which held at the Police Officers Mess in Ikeja, Da-Silva urged the Nigerian Police to refer cases of sexual assault and rape seen in their stations to referral centres such as the WARIF Centre in Yaba, where adequate medical treatment and counselling can be provided.
WARIF is a Non-Governmental Organization incorporated in 2016 by Dr Kemi Da-Silva Ibru, who is a member of the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT). The Foundation was created to raise awareness and advocate against this increasing prevalence of sexual violence experienced by women and to ensure such women have a safe place if and whenever such violence occurs.
The WARIF Centre has a team of qualified full time medical staff, specifically trained to carry out medical examinations and obtain biological specimens to facilitate the collection of evidence and help with police investigations.
She said at the Centre, rape survivors would be helped to overcome fear of stigmatization and discrimination by counselors trained by the Washington DC Rape Crisis Centre (DCRCC) in partnership with WARIF, that would assist in the healing process, ensuring they become empowered and seek justice if this is their choice.
As part of the preventive measures is the implementation of a Youth Based Awareness Programme in secondary schools and higher institutions. The curriculum is based on creating awareness and the importance of gender equality, a change in behaviour and practices and the prevention of gender based violence in our schools and communities.
The Commissioner commended WARIF saying the Police is always ready to assist survivors.