The Nasarawa State Government yesterday, inaugurated a Sexual Assault Referral Centre at the Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital or DASH, Lafia, to tackle the menace of gender-based violence or GBV in the state.
Speaking at the event, Silifat Sule, the First lady of Nasarawa state, expressed her commitment to ensuring that anyone who abuses a woman or girl is punished to serve as a deterrent to others.
"We must work together to end gender-based violence in our state. Parents should not leave their children under the care of anybody no matter how related they are without monitoring them." she said.
Aisha Rufai-Ibrahim, the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, explained that the centre would give hope to victims of sexual violence, treat them, and provide them with the necessary support to get justice.
"The provision of healthcare services is one of the topmost priorities of the Gov. Abdullahi Sule-led administration. The governor had given serious attention to issues of GBV in the state in the last four years and will do everything possible to tackle the menace," she added.
The commissioner further highlighted that the ministry had a situation room that monitors cases of GBV to ensure that perpetrators are prosecuted to serve as a deterrent to others.
"The establishment of this centre is a welcome development. It will help us to deal with the rising cases of sexual abuse and assault against women and girls in the state," said the Commissioner for Justice, represented by Justina Allu, Director, Public Defender, GBV in the ministry.
Dr. Hassan Ikrama, the Medical Director of DASH, expressed his gratitude to the governor's wife and the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development for establishing the centre at the facility. He expressed concern over the increase in the rate of assault against women and girl-children in the state and stated that DASH had been handling a lot of sexually related cases in recent years.
"We are committed to deploying qualified and sufficient personnel to work at the centre for optimal performance," he said.
The inauguration of the Sexual Assault Referral Centre is a significant step in the fight against gender-based violence in Nasarawa State. According to a report by the National Demographic and Health Survey, 25% of women aged 15-49 in Nigeria have experienced sexual violence, with Nasarawa State recording one of the highest rates in the country.