Stakeholders lament abandonment of Osun SARC amid worsening rape incidents

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Despite increasing incidents of rape and other forms of sexual assault and violence happening across Osun State, the state government has been unable to put its Sexual Assault Referral Center into use, findings by The Point have revealed.

It was observed that since the completion and commissioning of the SARC situated within the premises of State Specialist Hospital, Asubiaro, Osogbo, the health facility has remained under lock and key.

The building which was commissioned in November 2022 has been abandoned to rot away even as victims and survivors of Sexual and Gender Based Violence struggle to get adequate medical care and necessary psychosocial support after their ordeals.

The Center was commissioned by the then First Lady of the state, Kafayat Oyetola.

One of the many objectives of establishing the centre is to provide crucial medical, social, legal and safety protection services for survivors of SGBV in the state.

Other aim of the facility is to address emergency medical treatment, forensic, medical examination services, and expert counselling support, among others to victims and survivors of rape and other sexual and gender based attacks.

The Point gathered that most survivors of rape are not adequately attended to in non-special medical facilities due to lack of requisite experts.

Not only that the SARC has not been put into good use since its opening ceremony, The Point investigation revealed that there is no available sufficient medical personnel and other professionals to attend to survivors.

Also other utilities such as operational vehicles, communication gadgets, inverters, medical seats and water have not been put in place.

Experts and skilled personnel such as therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, social welfare officers, attendants, drivers, security personnel, volunteers/interns, sign interpreters for Persons With Disabilities among others are required to make the center serve its purpose.

Although the wives of Governor Ademola Adeleke have promised to work on the revitalisation of the SARC, nothing concrete has been seen to be done.

When a team of non-governmental organisation, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre visited the two wives of the state governor, recently, on separate advocacy visits, Titilola and Ngozi Adeleke promised to talk to their husband and other notably concerned authorities in the state to make the SARC functional.

One of the members of WARDC in Osun State, Citizen Lola Wey had bemoaned the abandonment of the SARC, saying that many litigation regarding SGBV in the state are failing because survivors don’t have the means of getting required medical examinations and psychosocial support.

She said, “We were happy when the SARC was commissioned. Unfortunately, it has not translated into any desired expectation. The building has been left unused and many survivors find it difficult accessing medical and other needed attention. The state government can still do something by furnishing the SARC with needed staff and equipment so that it could be running well.”

Also speaking, the Executive Director of Heritage Life Support Initiative, Bukola Ejiade asked for the Ministry of Health in Osun and other concerned stakeholders to give the centre the needed attention and allow survivors make good use of the facility.

“The centre has been abandoned for a very long time and it is high time the government opened it for use. It is now worse in Osun State that we hear of rape cases in Osun State on a daily basis and this SARC will be of good use for the survivors. Its continuous abandonment is a total disservice to the well-being of survivors and it is also dampening the efforts of NGOs and other stakeholders in the fight against SGBV,” Ejiade states.

Also calling on Governor Adeleke to revive the abandoned SARC, the Executive Director of CAI4SR, Eni Ayeni, said, β€œThe Sexual Assault Referral Centre was commissioned in 2022, but not open for operation, no personnel in the centre.”

While calling on the governor to put in place necessary things and revive the centre, Ayeni noted that it would aid in the speedy delivery of justice services and resolution of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence cases with the VAPP and ACJ laws.

The Permanent Secretary of Hospital Management Board, Abayomi Oni, disclosed that lack of personnel has been the issue affecting the centre.

He said, “These are issues of personnel to permanently man the centre. The centre was previously headed by Dr Afolabi, consultant Gynecologist, who resigned and left for UNIOSUN.

“Our personnel deficits have been factored in the Osun 2024 budget. We will fully operationalise the centre as soon as we get approvals to recruit relevant personnel.”