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16 days of activism: EU asks FG to increase funding for sexual assault referral centres

16 days of activism: EU asks FG to increase funding for sexual assault referral centres
November 29
20:08 2023

The European Union (EU) has tasked the federal government to increase funding for the existing sexual assault referral centres (SARCs) across the country.

Samuela Isopi, ambassador and head of delegation of the EU to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), spoke on Tuesday at the 9th network conference of SARCs in Abuja.

The conference, organised by the EU-funded rule of law and anti-corruption (RoLAC Phase II) programme of International Initiative for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) had “Funding and sustainability of sexual assault referral centres” as its theme and was held to mark the ongoing 16 days of activism.

While urging the government to invest in the SARCs, Isopi said the EU had expended over a billion naira in the establishment of the referral centres across the country in the last five years as part of efforts to curb sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).


Isopi said additional funding will further strengthen the centres to deliver on their mandate of providing free medical, counselling, and support services to survivors of sexual violence.

She also called for the establishment of specialised courts for sexual and gender-based violence cases.

“In Nigeria, the European Union has contributed over a billion naira in support of SARCs across the country and we will continue to advocate for more centres and for appropriate funding allocations at federal and state level to make them operational and sustainable,” the ambassador said.


“Addressing violence against women and girls requires a comprehensive and collective approach. We will continue to collaborate with key stakeholders in supporting legislative instruments.”

Oluwatoyosi Giwa, project manager, access to justice and co-ordinator, network of SARCs, RoLAC II of International IDEA, said gaps existed in administering care to survivors as a result of inadequate funding from the government.

Giwa added that the objective of the conference was to examine governance issues that continue to limit the impact and sustainability of SARCs in Nigeria.

“We still have a situation where state governments as well as the federal government is still not funding largely, SGBV response in Nigeria,” she said.


“And what I mean is that when it comes to emergency rescue, response, shelter services, medical, trauma counselling we still have that significant gap where the state government, federal government is still not putting the money where the legislation is.

“So, all of the different mechanisms that are supposed to respond are there, they are just not properly or adequately funded.”


In response, Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, minister of women affairs, asked states to allocate funds to the centres in their respective 2024 budgets.


“As impressive as the efforts of the federal government are, the common challenge faced by these centres according to a recent survey is the weak commitment by sub-national governments to strengthen the multi-sectoral and inter-agency collaboration mechanisms that will sustain the delivery of SARCs services to the victims,” the minister said.

“The implication is that the centres lack the requisite funds needed to ensure optimal service delivery.


“To this end, I enjoin all the state ministries of women affairs in states where these SARCs centres are located to as a matter of urgency and in the spirit of gender-responsive budgeting specifically allocate funds to these centres during the 2024 budget year.”

The minister was represented by Iheanyichi Amanambu, assistant director of gender affairs at the ministry of women affairs.




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