By Godwin Edeh
The Executive Director, Spring of Hope for the Girl Child Development Initiatives (SHoGDI), a Non-Governmental Organisation, Miss Mimidoo Uhundu, has appealed to the Benue State government to facilitate the immediate commencement of operations of the State Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) in the state.
Miss Uhundu made this appeal during a one-day advocacy and awareness creation on the need to operationalise the Benue Sexual Assault Referral Centre held at the Precious Event Centre, Makurdi, recently.
She expressed displeasure over the delay in the take off of SARC despite the fact that it was established early January this year and commissioned by the former Governor, Samuel Ortom.
She lamented that, apart from the physical structure, nothing is on ground to facilitate the smooth operation of SARC in Benue State, as according to her, the centre has no equipment, specialists, the needed support staff and other vital resources that can activate the centre to achieve its intended goals for the survivors of Gender Based Violence (GBV).
According to her, “Ironically, as the delay in the implementation and operationalisation of SARC in Benue State continues, cases of GBV persist and incidences of GBV continue to rise in the face of acute shortage of support for survivors and victims of Sexual Assaults and other forms of GBV.
“It is against this situation that SHoGDI is collaborating with Benue NGOs network (BEGONET) by bringing stakeholders within the gender and reproductive health space to find and adopt strategies on how to engage the new government of His Excellency, Rev Fr. Hyacinth Alia towards activating the SARC as a matter of urgency and the need for advocacy and awareness creation both in urban and rural communities. “I appeal to other NGOs, CSOs and FBOs as well as individuals who share the same views with us on this course for collaboration”.
In her remarks, Dr Laadi Swende of the Federal Medical Centre, Makurdi and Executive Director of SARC gave a detailed background of SARC in Benue State and the various challenges facing its take off and operationalisation.
Also speaking, CSP Ann Ameh, O/C Gender issues, Benue State police command, stated that, the command receives cases of GBV every day and will appreciate if SARC is put into operation in the state, saying the command is ready to partner in the fight against GBV.
Mr Victor Eboh of Lawyers Alert analyzed the basis of Violations Against Persons Prohibitions (VAPP) law of Benue State, 2019 with 34 states already operating the law except Kano, Katsina and Zamfara. He also explained the concept of rape, the penal code, among others.
On her part, Dr. Onoja of BENGONET spoke about SMART concept in the operation ability of SARC in Benue State.