WARIF takes COVID-19, sexual violence awareness to rural communities
As the cases of the COVID-19 infection in Lagos State continue to rise daily with an increasing number of cases of violence against women and girls also being recorded, Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF), one of the nation’s foremost NGOs tackling the prevalence of gender-based violence, has become concerned with the number of these cases not being attended to in the rural areas.
Recognizing the need to address this issue at the grassroots level, the organization has launched the WARIF COVID 19 Response in Rural Communities Initiative. This sensitization program was designed in collaboration with traditional birth attendants, previously trained by WARIF as first responders on gender-based violence cases.
The first cycle of the program is being carried out in five local government areas of Lagos – Epe, Alimosho, Ikorodu, Kosofe and Apapa. These LGAs were selected due to a high number of women in these communities with Alimosho the largest, having a population of 5,700,714.
According to Dr. Kemi DaSilva-Ibru, founder of Women at Risk International Foundation, “54 per cent of the population of Nigeria still reside in rural areas, with the shadow pandemic and an increasing number of cases, women in these remote areas are isolated and locked away with their abusers with no means of communicating with the outside world and with no services available to them. This Initiative brings help to their door step, providing an opportunity for care and safety from their abusers that they would not ordinarily have.”
Additional support and assistance are given to the traditional birth attendants by WARIF, with the distribution of personal protective equipment such as face masks, hand sanitizers and gloves to protect the frontline workers and reduce the risk of spread of the virus in their respective communities.