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WARIF reopens centre after 64% increase in calls reveal domestic, sexual abuse surge

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Shocking statistics by Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF) has revealed that domestic violence has surged since the start of the coronavirus lockdown, with help for the victims of abuse waning. WARIF, an NGO focused on reducing the prevalence of gender-based violence in Nigeria, has re-opened its centre to cater to survivors of sexual violence.

This decision was made after the NGO observed a 64 per cent increase in call cases, during the 14-day lockdown mandated by the Federal Government, to help curb the spread of the COVID-19. As the lockdown period continues, WARIF states that it will continue with skeletal operations at its centre, with opening times on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between the hours of 10:00a.m. and 3:00p.m.

Dr. Kemi Da-Silvia Ibru, founder of WARIF, reiterated that all safety measures have been put in place to prevent cross-contamination between survivors who visit the centre on these days. She also remarked that WARIF has provided personal protective equipment to ensure the safety of its frontline workers.

“During this period of lockdown we have observed that the number of calls received through our 24-hour confidential helpline to report cases of domestic and sexual abuse had increased by 64 per cent compared to the time before the lockdown.

“Of the calls received, 72 per cent were from women under threat of violence, who have been forced into isolation with their abusers. This is a growing concern for us as the mandatory lock down in effect may extend as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We must continue to practice social distancing and encourage all to stay at home who do not fall under essential services, as these are important precautions against spread of the virus, but we must also remember that for some, home is not the safest place to be. Everyone is encouraged to check up on their family and loved ones to ensure they are safe,” she said.

“We are also calling on individuals and corporate bodies to assist in our fund raising campaign to enable us continue to stay open at the WARIF Centre and to provide more PPE kits for our frontline workers who are at the WARIF Centre as first responders to walk -in cases of rape and sexual abuse during these trying times”, she added.

The NGO also works closely with other NGOs in the gender based violence space and the Lagos State Police to ensure that survivors of gender-based violence are protected and given adequate attention during the COVID-19 period. 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.


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