By Soni Daniel, Abuja
A Nigerian woman, who uses her non-governmental organisation to take care of rape victims and open the eyes of others to the evil, has been recgonised and honoured by the Queen of England, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
A statement by the Media Officer of the British High Commission in Nigeria, Mr. Joseph Abuku, said that the award is to be formally presented today to Itoro, who is the wife of the Editor of Vanguard Newspaper, Eze Anaba, at a colourful ceremony being hosted by the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, in Abuja.
Itoro Eze-Anaba, who founded Nigeria’s first sexual assault referral centre in 2013 and since then has helped over 3,100 victims of rape.
‘The Mirabel Centre’ has established itself as a key service provider for victims of sexual assault in Lagos State, with an increasing number of clients accessing the centre, indicating a growing awareness amongst members of the public of the existence of the centre and the crucial services it provides.
Reflecting on the award, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Arkwright, said,“Itoro has shown impressive dedication to supporting victims of sexual assault and rape. She has provided a safe haven for over 2800 survivors of this heinous crime and has encouraged thousands of others to break the silence on rape and seek prosecution of perpetrators, reducing their impunity.
“The Mirabel Centre is a project of Partnership for Justice where rape and sexual assault victims can access free forensic medical and counselling services.”
On her part, the recipient of the prestigeous award, Itoro, enthused, “I am delighted that a Point of Light has been awarded to highlight the importance of tackling rape and sexual assault. Rape is evil, degrading and dehumanizing.
On behalf of the dedicated, tireless and resolute team that is determined to give voice to the voiceless, strength to the weak and hope to the hopeless, I am sure that this award marks the beginning of a joint effort to uproot this evil that relentlessly battles for our future. This award is a reiteration of our message of NO TO RAPE!”
Itoro is the 4th Commonwealth Point of Light in honour of her support for victims of rape and sexual assault.
In the lead-up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London on 19-20 April, Her Majesty The Queen – as Head of the Commonwealth – is thanking inspirational volunteers across the 52 Commonwealth nations for the difference they are making in their communities and beyond.
By sharing these stories of service, the Heads of Government meeting will celebrate inspirational acts of volunteering across the Commonwealth and help inspire others to make their own contribution to tackling some of the greatest social challenges of our time.
Each Commonwealth Point of Light will receive a personalised certificate signed by Her Majesty The Queen as Head of the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth is a diverse community of 52 nations that work together to promote prosperity, democracy and peace. The Heads of Government meeting will bring together leaders from all the 52 Member countries to reaffirm common values, address shared global challenges and agree how to work to create a better future for all citizens, especially young people. Voluntary service is a vital part of this agenda, which is why Her Majesty The Queen has chosen to recognise outstanding volunteers across the Commonwealth in this special way.