– By Patrick Ochei
The Delta State Government has set up a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) at the Asaba Specialist Hospital to handle cases of sexual violence, rape and defilement, mostly perpetrated against women and Children.
The Centre came on stream, yesterday, Wednesday 23rd November, 2022, in a modest ceremony presided over by the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community and Social Development, in conjunction with the Delta State Child Rights Implementation Committee.
Speaking on behalf of the Honourable Commissioner for Women Affairs and as Chairman of the Child Rights Implementation Committee, Mrs. Kevwe Agas submitted that the birth of the Centre was a dream come through.
She said most often, offenders of sexual crimes go scot free, leaving their victims in pain of not getting adequate and right treatments, and further traumatised justice is not guaranteed.
According to her, “What we have done is to put a proper system in place, not only to respond to cases of rape and defilement when reported at the hospital, but to take necessary steps to arrest the perpetrators and get justice from there.
“This is because, sexual violence is a serious crime in our laws. But while making effort to bring justice to the victim, we must also support the victim medically, psychologically and emotionally.
“This is a One Stop Centre where one can get psychosocial support, legal support, security support, media support and more. It is a serious crime against humanity to rape a woman or man, defile a girl child or a boy child. In this case, we tend to see the focus as being more on Women and children; it is because these are more vulnerable people in this kind of issue.
“We will do everything humanly possible to ensure that this vision is sustained to yield benefits for victims and bring punishment to offenders”, Agas posited.
The Commissioner for Economic Planning, Mr. Barry Gbe commended the Women Affairs Ministry and other stakeholders for putting together this human interest Centre for the purpose of reducing the impact of sexual assault on victims.
He promised to provide the budgetary leeway for the Ministry to be able to set up more centres across the 25 local government areas of the State.
In her goodwill message, the Commissioner for Girl Child and Entrepreneurship Development, Hon. Nkechi Chukwurah insisted that all hands should be on deck to ensure that perpetrators of sexual offences are punished adequately.
She commended the effort of the Women Affairs Ministry and Child Rights Implementation Committee for the laudable project, adding that it would bring succour to the vulnerable persons, especially the girl children.
Giving a talk on Rape Case Management, the Medical Director of Asaba Specialist Hospital and Paediatrician by training, Dr. Peace Ighosevwe lauded the establishment of the Centre, adding that it would not only help victims to get speedy medical attention but also help them to voice out their challenges for justice to come.
Her words, “We are happy to partner with the Ministry of Women Affairs to carry out this divine human project. We will on our part as medical practitioners, manage the Centre effectively well to get value for all the stakeholders involved in the project”.
Speaking further, the MD said in managing a rape case, it must be first established that the patient was actually raped or defiled, afterwhich a comprehensive investigation is carried out through examination to ascertain the level of damage to the vagina.
She continued by saying that after doing all necessary examinations, the hospital would do what is called ‘Post Exposure Prophylaxis to ascertain if there is the presence of sexually transmitted infection.
Dr. Ighosevwe went on to list the importance of reporting a rape case early in hospital to avoid the incidence of disappearance of bruises and semens, application of psychotherapy against trauma and more importantly, the use of religious leaders for healing processes.
Giving a vote of thanks on behalf of the Child Rights Implementation Committee, Ven. Kingsley Dieli commended the Delta State Ministry of Women Affairs, the Delta State Child Rights Implementation Committee ably led by Mrs. Kevwe Agas and of course, every other stakeholder who made the vision of the Centre possible.
He urged all hands to be on deck to ensure that the Centre is not only engaged with activities, but also to assist in drastic reduction of sexual assaults in the society.
At the inauguration ceremony were representatives of the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Justice, Police, the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), the International Federation of Female Lawyers (FIDA) and others too numerous to mention.