It is no news that the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic unveiled a shadow pandemic across all regions of Nigeria; Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. As we might recall, one of the cases that sparked nationwide outrage was the case of a 15-year-old girl abducted and sexually assaulted by four boys for seven days in Bauchi State.Attah Sisters Helping Hands (ASSH) Foundation, a women’s rights organisation based in Bauchi state took up this case starting with provision of medical support to the girl and instant involvement of security operatives who swung into action and ensured the arrest and prosecution of all culprits. Despite the set-back encountered in the justice system due to the COVID 19 pandemic lockdown, ASSH Foundation did not give up until justice was served on behalf of the survivor in June 2021. All four perpetrators were sentenced to 12 years imprisonment each!
“She suffered a perineal laceration (multiple tears in her vagina) due to the continuous violation that she experienced. She was administered on by the doctor and operated upon, which was successful. We had to wait for her to come out of shock as she could not speak for a few days after the surgery before she gave us information about the boys.”– Executive Director, ASSH Foundation.
Through ActionAid Nigeria’s Strategic Opportunity Fund (SOF), the foundation provided psychosocial support to the survivor and her mother, after which the survivor and her family were relocated to a safer environment. They were also economically empowered for survival and sustainability.
As cases of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence drastically increased in Bauchi state during the pandemic, the foundation became overwhelmed with constant calls and cries for help from the survivors and their families. As a result, ASHH Foundation leveraged existing relationships with relevant stakeholders fighting the alarming rate of SGBV cases to set up a well-structured management committee that will tackle the increase in SGBV cases.
The management committee includes qualified personnel from FOMWAN, CAN, GNI, OC Gender Police, NAWOJ, NUJ, ATBU Hospital Social Welfare, Bauchi State Specialist Hospital Social Welfare, National Human Rights Commission, Ministry Of Women Affairs, Network Of People Living With Disabilities, AONN, ASHH Foundation,Bauchi Human Rights Network, Civil Defence.
Since the set-up of this committee, issues of rape, women disinheritance, and forced marriages among other gender-based violence cases have been addressed. Through the Women’s Voice and Leadership Nigeria (WVL-N) Project, ASHH Foundation has provided psychosocial, medical, legal, and palliative support to 90 survivors of violence in Bauchi State.
The WVL-N project is fully supported by ActionAid Nigeria with funding from Global Affairs Canada. Visit www.feministhub.com to learn more.