Women at Risk International Foundation has recorded a 64 per cent increase in sexual abuses during the 14-day lockdown of Lagos, Abuja and the Federal Capital Territory mandated by President Muhammadu Buhari to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
WARIF, an organisation focused on reducing the prevalence of gender-based violence in Nigeria, urged all affected adults and caregivers of young children to make use of its 24-hour confidential help line to report any case of sexual abuse or attempted sexual abuse.
Founder of WARIF, Dr Kemi Da-Silvia Ibru, added that safety measures have been put in place to prevent cross-contamination between survivors, who visit the centre.
She also said that WARIF has provided personal protective equipment to ensure the safety of its frontline workers.
She said, “During this period of lockdown, we have observed that the number of calls received through our 24-hour confidential helpline to report cases of sexual abuse had increased by 64 per cent compared to the time before the lockdown.
“This is worrisome for us because sexual abuse thrives on secrecy.
“The larger community needs to be aware that although we are all limiting our interactions with friends, families and neighbours, we have to be mindful that sexual abuse is happening and in fact the rate is becoming alarming. Everyone is encouraged to check up on their loved ones.”
WARIF also works closely with the police in Lagos State to ensure that survivors of gender-based violence are protected and given adequate attention during the COVID-19 period.
She added, “Everyone is encouraged to call the WARIF 24-hour confidential helpline (08092100009) in emergency cases or to report a suspected case of GBV around them.”