A non-governmental organisation, the Centre for Children’s Health Education, Orientation and Protection (CEE-HOPE), with the support from Heart 100, has provided a shelter known as the Heart of Hope, for victims of GBV.
The executive director of CEE-HOPE, Betty Abah, remarked during the opening of the Shelter in Lagos that the intervention became necessary due to a large number of GBV victims witnessed during the COVID-19 lockdown measures.
“As we all know, COVID-19 has come, not only as a killer of humans and destroyer of the global economy but has also led to a global spike in GBV. Incidences of Intimate Partner Violence, physical battery, sexual violence and all sorts of domestic violence. This is because either the victim is locked with his/her abuser owing to lockdown measures or loss of livelihoods or partners finding it hard to manage pressures. It is for this reason that GBV has long been tagged ‘an epidemic within an epidemic.’ And as usual, women and girls are the major victims,” she said.
According to Abah, the shelter would provide temporary accommodation, psychosocial support and empowerment for GBV victims in need of the services.
“We are therefore grateful to our partner, Hearts 100 for providing this much-needed solace for women and girls at risk or impacted by GBV and many whose lives may be threatened. If we are a nation that truly cares, no woman or girl needs to die from GBV,” she said.
A representative of Heart 100 in Nigeria and Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Dr Nnimmo Bassey, said the intervention by Heart 100 in providing a shelter for GBV victims in Nigeria was a way of healing broken hearts.
“The most valuable thing in life is the relationship that you have with others, not how much money you have. That is why Hearts 100 asks for 100 contributions in whatever currency and when the drop is full, the money is used to mend broken hearts,” he said.
Project Alert executive director, Josephine Efah-Chukwuma, whose organisation was the first to set up a shelter in Nigeria for GBV victims, made the case for more shelters in Nigeria.
“My father used to say that when the stress of outside catches you, you run into the house. But now, people are running outside and they don’t know where to go,” she said.
She explained that shelters are one of the urgently needed support for GBV victims because people remain in an abusive relationship for the lack of where to go.
Recall that the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that nearly three in 10 Nigerian women have experienced physical, mental, or sexual assault. And with the COVID-19 pandemic crippling the household economy, the number is rising. Yet, Nigeria has less than 20 shelters for the vast number of victims of Gender-Based Violence (GBV), in a population of more than 200 million people. And all are the initiatives of privately run organisations. Hence, many victims of GBV, for fear of nowhere to go, get stuck with their abusers in the same roof.