…As Foundation empowers over 100 as first medical responders

By Chioma Obinna

With statistics showing that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 10 boys would be abused before age 18 in Nigeria, Cece Yara Foundation has called on the government at all levels, and parents man guardians to prioritise children’s care to stem the tide of sexual abuse among them.

To this end, the Foundation last week in Lagos trained over 100 Patient and Proprietary Medicine Vendors (PPMVs) as first medical responders in Lagos.

Speaking during the training tagged: “Building the Capacity of Health Workers on Response and Care to Survivors of Sex and Gender-based Violence”, the Chief Executive Director, Cece Yara Foundation, Adetutu Ajigbodun also stressed the need to make sexual abusers understand the consequences of their actions.

She said there was a need for parents to pay attention and be free with their children to ensure they are protected from abusers. “Many cases of abuse happen at home or by perpetrators who are close to the child. If a parent is not paying attention to her child anything can happen to that child and it takes a village to raise a child, we and the government, media is the village.”

According to her, to reduce sexual abuse and rescue violated children, the foundation now has a 24-hour toll-free helpline where anybody can call to report a case of abuse and they receive between 200 to 300 calls monthly from different geographical areas, nationwide.

 “We have come up with a programme called safe kids’ awareness to educate school children on how to say NO, how to know their body parts and body boundaries. There is another one that is called the adult awareness programme, this same programme is taken into cooperative environments, offices, and organisations, training parents, mothers and people that have access to children on how to recognise the signs of abuse and how to manage and prevent it if possible.

She explained that they are training over 100 community pharmacists and PPMVs as first medical responders to sexual abuse victims.

“These are people that will prescribe emergency contraceptives to survivors that have been raped. We are empowering them with the capacity to know how to handle cases of sexual and gender-based violence. Now, we are not just training them, we are partnering with them and the partnership is to refer cases of abuse to the Foundation not only to get medical support but also to access all of the services that we render such as legal aid and psychosocial support.

“A child that has been abused cannot just get medical support and be fine, that child needs psychosocial support. We are also teaching them how to identify signs of gender-based violence and abuse in a woman.  Like a child that constantly goes to a pharmacist to buy contraceptives, a drug to heal a pain that is constantly imposed on that child, there is a problem, and what is that problem? There is the likelihood that that child is being abused. We rescue children from them.”

Corroborating her views, the Chief Operation Manager, Cece Yaro Foundation, Mrs Bisi Ajayi Kayode, while noting that pharmacists and medicine vendors were key in child protection said there was a need for the responders to respond responsibly and know how to handle the survivors, facilitate medical treatment, access to justice, and psychosocial support because a single agency cannot handle it.  She said survivors of child sexual abuse have many needs which include; medical, legal, forensic investigation, psychosocial support, and shelter services and Cece Yaro is providing them at no cost.

“The very first children telecommunication 08008008001 through which callers like children and adults can access information, care, referral pathways and emergency intervention, all in a bit to reduce it instead of child sexual abuse.

She said so far, the foundation has trained over 40,000 to 50,000 school children on body boundaries and private parts. “We have trained about 6,000 adults on how to protect children and we have treated over 75 cases and secured three convictions both online and offside for over 200 individuals.”

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