By Fortune Eromosele, Abuja
As part of efforts to ensure holistic support for survivors of rape and other forms of sexual violence, and in commemoration of the ongoing 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, a group, Invictus Africa Wednesday, formally released “the Survivors Guide.”
Addressing newsmen in Abuja, Executive Director, Invictus Africa, Bukky Shonibare, said the guide was developed as part of the groups ongoing Prevention, Accountability, Support (PAS) project supported by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), which she added was aimed at preventing sexual and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) through capacity development, demanding accountability from duty bearers using empirical evidence, and providing support to survivors through access to relevant resources.
She said: “The Survivor’s Guide is a no-fluff, realistic, hangs-on guide created to support Survivors of sexual and Bender-based violence (SGBV) as they Navigate the period after sexual Violence, whether in the decisions they must make immediately or the actions they may take years after.
“Through this guide, Survivors will know: the relevant terms, the myths and lies around SGBV, what to do and not do if raped or sexually abused, how and where to get help, and their rights as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999), the Violence Against Persons Prohibitions (VAPP) Act (2015), the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (2015), and other extant laws.
Shonibare maintained that the survivor’s guide accompanies the Orange Pages, which Invictus Africa launched in July, containing contact details of over 200 SGBV responders and service providers across all States in Nigeria.
She stressed that, “Through these resources — Orange Pages, The Survivor’s Guide, and others that we have developed and will develop ~ we want to make sure that SGBV survivors are never left stranded by ensuring they have access to simple, friendly, and easy-to-use tools that can provide them with the relevant information they may need at any time.
“With The Survivor’s Guide, we hope that survivors feel supported, and that the people who are in their lives also are provided with the language to truly support them and not further, knowingly or unknowingly, contribute to their trauma. The Survivor’s Guide can be downloaded from www.invictus.ng/SurvivorsGuide.”
Also speaking, Aderonke Bello, Executive Director of FAME Foundation, noted that her foundation which is gender-focused and uses sports to preach development, will partner with Invictus Africa to ensure the guide gets to all major sporting arenas and venues across the country.
On her part, Osai Ojigho, Executive Director, Amnesty International Nigeria, commended Invictus Africa for providing a resource for SGBV. She stated that those affected must be called survivors and not victims, to preserve their dignity.
She added that Amnesty International will disseminate the material across its supporters’ network.
Speaking in the same vein, Kelechi Ofim of TechHer stated that the organisation will contribute to caring for survivors by working to ensure that the accountability of VAPP law is upheld in various states.
He noted that there is a need to improve on the weaknesses of the law, adding that some states are passing a watered-down version of the law.
To this end, Tsema Ede of Heinrich Boll Foundation described the launch of the material as a labour of love and a precious story. “To think that an organisation makes it available is important and commendable,” she said.