Lion's Head supports WARIF in the fight against gender based violence

Women At Risk International Foundation (WARIF) is a non-profit organization that tackles rape, sexual violence and human trafficking in Nigeria through impactful initiatives in Health, Education and Community Service. Lion's Head Global Partners is supporting the fight against gender-based violence through our CSR programme with a donation for the procurement of a toll-free line for the WARIF 24 hour confidential helpline. This will make it easier for survivors to reach the organisation and access telephone counselling support.

Ighosime Oyofo recently had the privilege of visiting WARIF in Yaba, Lagos and wrote the following report to highlight how Lion's Head is going to help the organisation

WARIF was established in 2016 by Dr. Kemi DaSilva-Ibru MD;MPH as a response to a desperate need for support services for women and girls who have been victims of sexual violence, abuse and even human trafficking. These heinous acts are incredibly traumatic and disorienting, and WARIF works to help victims– referred to as “survivors” by the organisation – regain sense of self and dignity. Given the shame, ostracism, derision and threat of further violence, many survivors are afraid to seek help or report incidents of assault, allowing the bulk of these acts to go unpunished. Where survivors can work up the courage to come into the centre, they are greeted by a female security guard who takes down their initial contact details and leads them into a calming waiting room. Younger survivors, many of whom are under the age of 10, are given toys and refreshments to further put them at ease.

Considering the sensitivities around assault, the centre has designed their facility to ensure that survivors don’t see or interact with each other while receiving treatment or counselling, to avoid them feeling self-conscious for coming forward. It is important to note that every survivor that comes into the centre is asked to return for two follow-up consultations within 3 months and are encouraged to continue to utilise the centre’s services should they desire. While statistics in this regard are never pleasant to present, it is important to understand the situation and the implications of inaction:

·      One in four (25%) of women in Nigeria have experienced some form of sexual assault; 30% between the ages of 15-49 have reported incidents

·      In its five years of existence, as of August 2021, WARIF has received over 1,215 walk-in clients (well over 4 women a week)

·      The centre is currently receiving an average of 35 survivors a month

·      WARIF experienced a 64% increase in calls to the centre during the COVID-imposed lockdowns, underscoring the fact that survivors were trapped with their abusers

·      74% of the survivors that come into WARIF are assaulted by a person known to the survivor – family member, neighbour, other community leader, etc

·      According to NOI Polls, 47% of Nigerians blame rape on “indecent dressing”, highlighting the need for continuous engagement and sensitisation across the country

WARIF does critical work in Lagos State and has worked hard over the last five years to embed itself in the community by working with the State Government, Police, religious and other leaders to make the the environment safer and more secure for women and girls. The Police, in particular, have become strong partners whereby sensitised officers are trained to refer survivors to WARIF for treatment, counselling, and the incident medical reports which are key pieces of evidence where the case is taken to court.

Lion’s Head Global Partners has joined WARIF on its journey to ridding our communities of all forms of abuse and domestic violence, particularly towards women and girls. Our CSR programme is designed to support causes that resonate with our values as an organisation, namely (a) promoting inclusivity and diversity, (b) climate resilience (c) proactive community engagement, and (d) fostering healthy communities. By establishing a rape and crisis call centre, more women and girls can receive better access to trained professionals that can help provide care and, in some cases, act as mediators in resolving issues. We are delighted and proud to support WARIF in their efforts and look forward to others joining the fight against all forms of sexual violence in our communities.

Written by
Ighosime Oyofo
Published on
14/10/2021