WARIF, a non governmental organisation on gender-based violence in Nigeria, launched the WARIF COVID-19 Response in Rural Communities Initiative in response to the increase in reported cases of violence against women and girls during the ongoing pandemic.
Dr Kemi Da- Silva-Ibru, founder of WARIF, made this known in a statement on Friday in Lagos.
Da -Silva-Ibru, sharing her concerns about the increase in gender based violence, said the lockdown and frustrations arising from the COVID-19 pandemic had led to an increase in reported cases of violence against women and girls.
This, she said, had led the organisation to recognise the need to address the issue at the grassroot level.
She said that the sensitisation program was designed in collaboration with traditional birth attendants, previously trained by WARIF as first responders on gender-based violence cases.
“These health care providers, already educated on the prevalence of domestic and sexual gender-based violence within their grassroot communities and the immediate response and management of these cases, have been galvanised into small cell groups.
“They will be making house to house visits in their various communities to offer assistance to women who are in lockdown with their spouses and partners.
“Cases of abuse in these households are being identified and recorded and are referred to the WARIF Rape Crisis Centre.
“Additional support and assistance are given to these traditional birth attendants, by the distribution of personal protective equipment such as face masks, hand sanitisers and gloves to protect these frontline workers and reduce the risk of spread of the virus in their respective communities,” she said.
Da Silva-Ibru revealed that the first cycle of the program was being carried out in five Local Government Areas of Lagos State — Epe, Alimosho, Ikorodu, Kosofe and Apapa.
“These LGAs are selected due to a high number of women in these communities, with Alimosho, the largest, with an estimated population of 5,700, 714.
“Fifty-four per cent of the population of Nigeria still reside in rural areas, with the shadow pandemic and increasing number of cases, women in these remote areas are isolated and locked away with their abusers with no means of communicating with the outside world and with no services available to them.
“This initiative brings help to their door steps, providing an opportunity for care and safety from their abusers that they will not ordinarily have,” she said.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Oluwole Sogunle (NAN)