Rebuilding Lives, Restoring Hope!

“I am happy to share my experiences that I have bottled up for the past 28 years ofmy marriage, I have been able to dispel all of the burdens in me. I feel light andrelaxed” – Mrs A “

 

According to the UN World Population Prospects report (2019), the percentage of females in the world is estimated at 49.58% (3.905 billion) of the world population. In Nigeria, 49.3 percent of Nigeria’s population are females.  Over the years, women and girls have continued to be at the receiving end for gender-based violence in Nigeria. 

According to the 2018 National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS), 33% of women age 15-49 in Nigeria have experienced physical or sexual violence; 24% have experienced only physical violence, 2% have experienced only sexual violence, while 7% have experienced both physical and sexual violence. Aside physical and sexual violence, other forms of violence reported by Nigerian women include; socio-economic and psychological violence all which have significant impact on individual health, safety and wellbeing as well as women’s quality of life. Several studies have reported that the prevalence of GBV is higher among females with low social-economic status, illiterate and countries with the weak legal system.  The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing inequalities and global economic decline continue to complicate response to sexual violence affecting women and girls. Despite this widespread violence and the challenges, the provision of survivor centered psychosocial support services have been very limited especially for grassroots women in Nigeria, who are more vulnerable. 

But this is beginning to change especially for women and girls in Alimosho LGA, Lagos State Nigeria with the emergence of the Ireti Resource Center, in September 2020. 

Ireti Resource Center, located in Alimosho LGA, Lagos State is an initiative of Women’ Rights and Health Project (WRAHP), committed to providing integrated legal and psychosocial support services in a safe space for women and girls, survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, and other vulnerable persons across communities in Lagos State. Services offered at the center include: sexual and gender-based violence response and referrals, counselling and therapy, pyscho-social support and community legal aid. 

Since inception in September 2020 the center has provided survivor centered psychosocial support and free legal aid services for 936 community members (783 females and 153 males) across Alimosho Local Government Area, including persons with disabilities as follows:

  • Community Legal Clinic services reaching 414 members of the community (261 females and 153 males) SGBV survivors. This includes 50 persons with disabilities. 
  • Counselling services reaching 292 female survivors 
  • Safe Space Therapy reaching 37 female survivors 
  • Medical support services for 8 survivors 
  • Glow up Therapy for 95 female survivors 
  • Rescue support for 24 female survivors 
  • Arrest support services for 37 female survivors 
  • Court filling support services for 26 female survivors 
  • Convictions of 3 perpetrators for sexual violence offences 

The services provided at the center have contributed to rebuilding lives and restoring hope especially for grassroots women and girls in Alimosho LGA. Prior to the establishment of the Ireti Resource Center, reporting on sexual and gender-based violence was low because they few existing centers in Lagos State were far from Alimosho and many in the community did not know where they were actually located and few who knew could not embark on such long distances due to the high cost of transportation.

The central location of Ireti Resource centre in Alimosho therefore increased access to services by many SGBV survivors. “The location of your office Ireti Resource Center in Alimosho has also helped to allow our members access to justice and information on SGBV”. (”(Hon. Rabiu A. Kazeem Business/Community leader, Egbe-Idimu LCDA).”

Some other milestones achievements through services at the Ireti Resource center:

Securing convictions for perpetrators: Two convictions secured for two perpetrators. First, on 16th of February 2023, in a judgment delivered by Justice R.A Oshodi of the Sexual Offence Court, Ikeja, Oluwapamilerinayo Eniola was sentenced to life imprisonment for the rape of a 24year old lady in 2021. The second conviction was on the on the 9th of March 2023.when the perpetrator ISMAIL ABDULMODIU was convicted and sentenced to Life imprisonment for the defilement of one Miss R in a judgment delivered by Justice Sholadoye of the Sexual Offences Court 43, Ikeja. Both perpetrator’s names have been registered in the sexual offenders Register as maintained by Lagos State. These convictions have been well received by the survivors and members of the community in general given the serious challenges always experienced in the process of prosecuting perpetrators. 

Rekindling hope and rebuilding lives of survivors:  Through the various services provided at the center (glow up, safe space sessions, counselling, medical support etc.), the mental health and self-esteem of survivors have been enhanced and many have found new hope to “breathe again”.

 “The relaxation techniques practised helped me recover. I am revitalized and better

“. – Mrs B

Ireti Resource Center has in just three years demonstrated her critical role as a first line response for grassroots women and girls survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, providing them with a safe and confidential space and support to overcome the trauma of their experiences. In addition, the center has become pivotal as the hub for collaboration and coordination among institutions, responders and partners whose efforts are essential in assisting survivors, punishing perpetrators and reducing sexual violence. The center has also provided a means to collect accurate data on the survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.

For Nigeria to achieve the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goal 5, particularly target 5.2, centers such as the Ireti Resource center are very strategic and crucial. 

 

Appreciation goes to Global Affairs Canada (GAC) for the financial support to aid service provision at the center through the Women Voice and Leadership Program managed by ActionAid Nigeria.