Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF), an NGO focused on reducing the prevalence of gender-based violence in Nigeria, has re-opened its centre to cater to survivors of sexual violence.
This decision was made after the NGO observed a 64 percent increase in call cases, during the 14-day lockdown mandated by the Federal Government, to help curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
As the lockdown period continues, WARIF states that it will continue with skeletal operations at its centre, with opening times on Mondays, Wednesdays only between the hours of 10 am and 3 pm.
Dr. Kemi Da-Silvia Ibru, founder of WARIF, reiterated all safety measures put in place to prevent cross-contamination between survivors who visit the centre on these days. She also remarked that WARIF has provided personal protective equipments to ensure the safety of its frontline workers.
“During this period of lockdown we have observed that the number of calls received through our 24hr confidential helpline to report cases of sexual abuse had increased by 64% compared to the time before the lockdown.
“This is worrisome for us because sexual abuse thrives on secrecy. The larger community needs to be aware that although we are all limiting our interactions with friends, families and neighbours, we have to be mindful that sexual abuse is happening and in fact, the rate is becoming alarming. Everyone is encouraged to check up on their loved ones,” said Dr. Kemi.
“We are also calling on individuals and corporates to assist in our fund raising campaign to enable us continue to provide more PPE kits for our workers who are at the WARIF Centre as first responders to walk -in cases of rape and sexual abuse during these trying times”, she added.
The NGO also works closely with the Lagos State Police to ensure that survivors of gender-based violence are protected and given adequate attention during the COVID-19 period. Everyone is encouraged to call the WARIF 24-hour confidential helpline (08092100009) in emergency cases or to report a suspected case of GBV around them.