ARDA launches toll-free lines for sexual victims
To contribute to the body of resources available to survivors of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) in Lagos and Borno States, a non-government organisation, ARDA Development Communication Inc. (ARDA-DCI) has launched a toll-free line 08000202020, through which survivors can access medical care, psychosocial support, access referral services, and legal aid and important information on sexual and gender-based violence.
The organisation said that the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) solution was borne out of need to build on the existing avenues for survivors to access holistic care after incidence of abuse, particularly in the Southwest state of Lagos and the Northeast state of Borno.
ARDA-DCI is partnering with leading Sexual Assault Referral Centres, Mirabel Centre and Cece Yara, and The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERs).
In its 26 years of operation, ARDA said it has focused on fostering sustainable development in Nigeria and across Africa by adopting and implementing culturally competent methodologies through an audience-centric approach.
Speaking during the launch in GRA, Ikeja, Lagos, Executive Director, ARDA-DCI, Allison Dataphido said that over the years, the organisation has partnered with international bodies including United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), John Hopkins University, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and other leading private sector partners, to implement various social and behavioural change communication projects.
She said: “To advance the Sustainable Development Goal 5 on entrenching gender equality and decreasing all forms of violence against women and girls, we are implementing the Open Arms Project in Lagos and Bornu States, the launch of the toll number is a significant step towards supporting survivors of violence, and ARDA is excited to be able to make this service available to those who need it most.”
“The open arms project is an adaptive triage service for sexual and GBV response information, counselling, and referral services through mobile technology. Through number, survivors and others who require the services will be able to access a range of information on sexual and reproductive health and rights, engage directly with professional counsellors, and leverage related functions.”
While speaking on the Open Arms Project, the ED said: “The number of incidences around sexual and GBV cases nationwide is alarming, but we narrowed the Open Arms Project to focus on the bustling city of Lagos and the recovering city of Maiduguri.
The toll-free number is designed in such a way that not only can survivors access the right services that they deserve, but they can also get referrals to other service providers and access information without fear of judgment or stigma if they do not yet feel ready to speak directly with a counsellor. It can be a lifeline for survivors who may feel isolated, scared or unable to seek help in person.”
Also, Chief Executive Officer, The Cece Yara Foundation, Adetutu Ajibodu, said: “We cannot prevent without providing information and if we provide information without accessible, it means the information is not effective. So, we are looking at negative social norms as a major contribution to GBV. There must be the right policy to ensure that there is prevention as well as prosecution of perpetrators.
“We are also talking about the training of police officers, investigators and prosecutors. Everybody that has a say about prevention must have the right tools needed.
On her part, Chief Executive Officer, The Cece Yara Foundation, Adetutu Ajibodu, said: “There must be right policies to ensure prevention as well as prosecution of perpetrators.