Ulla Elisabeth Mueller, County representative of UNFPA, on Tuesday, revealed that out of the estimated over 7.8 million population in Oyo State, the fifth most populous state in Nigeria. 17.1 per cent of women in the state have been victims of physical violence since age 15.
She added that 3.2 per cent are victims of sexual violence and 13 per cent victims of spousal violence, stating that report from the state gender violence response team also showed a consistent increase in the number of women who report violence of all forms from 132 in 2019 to 768 in 2020 due to the lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic and its social and economic impacts and to 227 as at April 2021.
She made this statement in Ibadan at the commissioning of the Oyo State Abiyamo Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) of the Oyo State Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Response Team (OYO SGBVRT) at the Jericho Nursing Home, saying that the nexus between gender inequality and denial of bodily autonomy has a real effect on the lives of women and girls everywhere, every day.
“Attitudes and norms that subordinate a woman or girl’s wellbeing, needs and rights to say no to sex to those of a man or boy take away her power—her agency—and research has verified that this can have negative consequences that can last a lifetime and carry from one generation to the next,” she said.
According to Mueller, global estimates by the state of the world population report indicates that about 33 out of every 100 women worldwide have been victims of physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime while in Nigeria, 30 per cent of girls and women aged between 15 and 49 were reported to have experienced sexual abuse.
“These figures we all know is a tip of the iceberg and a mirror of how many women indeed experience and report violence they have undergone. Unfortunately, many are still left behind and have had limited or no access to prompt, quality, non-discriminatory, gender-responsive services within the states and are forced to live with the consequences.
“The birth of the first state-owned SARC through a partnership between government and UNFPA provides a golden opportunity for women who have experienced violence either in the short or long term to have the right to bodily autonomy and access to a survivor centred care,” she said.
Prof Oyelowo Oyewo, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Oyo State, who spoke stated that the establishment of SARC is to strengthen the commitment and collective efforts in tackling the menace of sexual and gender-based violence in Oyo State which soared as a result of the pandemic and other issues.
“Unfortunately, this menace is under-reported due to so many reasons, one of which is the trauma usually gone through by the survivors in the course of achieving justice. The establishment of the Abiyamo Sexual Assault Referral centre, a one-stop justice help desk, which is professional, confidential and holistic has come to the rescue of the survivors of SGBV in Oyo State.
“With this Centre, victims are assured of confidentiality, well-coordinated services including psychosocial support and also assures the Oyo State citizens and people of this government’s dedication to put a stop to, prevent and protect them from Gender-based Violence. This will also encourage the survivors to speak up thereby speaking well to Oyo State Data on SGBV,” Prof Oyewo stated.