EU invests N1bn, sets up 41 sexual assault referral centres in Nigeria

EU invests N1bn, sets up 41 sexual assault referral centres in Nigeria

The European Union (EU) has disclosed that it recently spent N1 billion in its commitment to the fight against domestic violence in Nigeria.

This is in its effort, along with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), to combat gender-based violence.

The Head of the Governance, Gender Human Rights and Migration Section at the EU Delegation, Ruben Alba Aguilera, disclosed this yesterday in Lagos during the premiere of the movie titled ‘Deafening Silence’, sponsored by the  UNDP.

He represented the EU Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Samuela Isopi, at the premiere.

‘Deafening Silence’ was produced by the UNDP within the framework of the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative.

The film leverages the power of storytelling to explore themes of Gender Equality, Women’s Empowerment and SGBV in Nigeria.

Aguilera said: “So this is part of a wider initiative, which we call the EU spotlight initiative, for which we will mobilise together with other initiatives more than N1 billion.

“And this is part of the prevention initiatives. It’s about raising awareness, about breaking the silence, about making sure that people are aware that violence exists in our society, and that we all have to play a role to stop it,” he said.

He further said the EU has set up 41 sexual assault referral centres across 20 states in Nigeria, noting that victims could get support, including legal aid, and process legal action against perpetrators.

“It is not okay, we cannot just accept that violence is used against our mothers or sisters or daughters, that, we will have to fight and we will have to play a role.”

He noted that they have also invested in work to make sure that the victims of gender violence also have access to basic services, like psychosocial support and health services.

He urged the federal government to strengthen its fight against gender and sexual violence and invest in it.

“The government also has to invest and has to play its role. And that is why we are also trying to help; we want to make sure that the government is in full ownership, and that they also mobilize their own funding and their own resources.

“So for example, we have been partnering with judges and with prosecutors,” he added.

Reaffirming the EU’s commitment to combatting sexual and gender-based violence, Isopi said the power of storytelling showcased in Deafening Silence would amplify the voices of survivors and advocates, and drive momentum for change.

“The power of art lies in its ability to evoke empathy and provoke introspection. It provides a platform for marginalised voices to be heard and validated.”

The movie, produced by Emem Isong Misodi, starred actors including Toni Tones, Kate Henshaw, Femi Jacobs, Daniel Etim Effiong, Chidi Mokeme, Bimbo Akintola, Debby Felix and Ekamma Etim-Inyang.

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