The Duchess of Cornwall has expressed her readiness to extend her work on supporting female victims of violence by becoming a patron of Mirabel Centre, Nigeria’s first sexual assault referral centre.
Camilla, 74, is set to be announced as royal patron of The Mirabel Centre, a trailblazing organisation in West Africa that has provided free medical support, counselling and practical services to more than six thousand women and girls, as well as men and young boys.
Distressingly, the youngest victim it has helped was aged just three months, while the oldest was aged 80.
The Duchess, who has made the issue of domestic abuse and sexual assault one of the cornerstones of her public work, said she was ‘delighted to do anything she could to help the centre in Lagos.
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‘It is a truly trailblazing organisation, supporting survivors of rape and sexual assault as they seek healing and justice. Their vital work means that women need no longer suffer in silence and I am deeply grateful to all Mirabel’s wonderful staff and volunteers,’ she said.
Founded eight years ago by Itoro Eze-Anaba, the Mirabel helps those who have either recently become the victim of rape or sexual assault or have experienced it historically.
She told the Mail that the centre provided not just immediate medical assistance and examinations, which can be used as evidence in any subsequent court case, but counselling, practical and financial support for the victims and their families.
“It is about providing help and support for the whole family throughout the healing process, as well as helping the victim and, in some cases, the police,’ she explained.
“There can be a lot of stigma around this issue and there has been a culture of silence. We hope to help give women a voice.”
Mrs Eze-Anaba added: “The current COVID-19 pandemic has further revealed the endemic nature of sexual violence. We have seen a huge number of children and women coming forward to report cases of sexual assault and rape.
“We are confident that the support of The Duchess will make a difference. We hope that together we can enable more survivors to seek and achieve justice.
“It is an honour to welcome HRH The Duchess of Cornwall as our first Patron. We have followed her work with charities working in the sexual and gender-based violence space and have seen how passionate and committed The Duchess is towards providing support for survivors. ‘
The UK’s High Commissioner to Nigeria Catriona Laing CB added: “Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) is a global epidemic ravaging all levels of society, and one of the most prevalent and devastating human rights violations.
“It cuts across all social, national, economic boundaries and, sadly, remains largely unreported due to the stigma and shame too often associated with survivors, and the impunity too often enjoyed by the perpetrators.
“The Mirabel Centre is the first of its kind to provide holistic and high quality psychosocial and medical services to these survivors in Nigeria, and this patronage will no doubt help to ensure safe and continued support to sexual assault survivors, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.”
For almost a decade, the Duchess of Cornwall has highlighted the work of domestic abuse and sexual assault charities in the UK and overseas in supporting victims and survivors, with the aim of breaking the taboo around the subject.
In 2020 she became Patron of the UK domestic abuse charity SafeLives.
The Mirabel Centre is her first overseas patronage in the field and arose from an official visit to Nigeria with the Prince of Wales in 2018.
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