The ARDA Development Communication Incorporated (ARDA-DCI) on Thursday launched a Toll-Free 0-8000-20 20-20 and implemented Open Arms Project for Survivors of Gender-Based Violence in Lagos and Borno States.
Ms Tawakalit Kareem, Programme Manager, ARDA-DCI, during the inauguration and implementation in Lagos said survivors across these states could access affirming, holistic medical care from a network of partners.
She said they could also access psychosocial support, access referral services, legal aid and important information on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV).
Kareem said that the Open Arms Project was an adaptive triage service for SGBV response information, counselling, and referral services through mobile technology.
She said to advanced the Sustainable Development Goal 5 on entrenching gender equality and decreasing all forms of violence against women and girls, ARDA-DCI was implementing the Open Arms Project in these states.
“The launch of the 0-8000-20-20-20 toll free number for SGBV survivors is a significant step towards supporting survivors of violence, and ARDA is excited to be able to make this service available to those who need it most.
“Through the toll-free number, survivors and others who require the services will be able to access a range of information on sexual and reproductive health and rights, engage directly with professional Counsellors, and leverage related functions.
“The Interactive Voice Response (IVR) solution is borne out of the need to build on the existing avenues for survivors to access holistic care after an incidence of abuse, particularly in the South-West state of Lagos and the North-East state of Borno.
“To this end, in Lagos State, ARDA-DCI is partnering with leading Sexual Assault Referral Centres, Mirabel Centre and Cece Yara, and The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERs),” she said.
The Executive Director of ARDA-DCI, Mrs. Data Phido, while speaking on the Open Arms Project, said, “The number of incidences around sexual and gender-based violence cases nationwide is alarming.
“But we narrowed the Open Arms Project to focus on the bustling city of Lagos and the recovering city of Maiduguri.
“The toll-free number, 0-8000-20-20-20, is designed in such a way that not only can survivors access the right services that they deserve, including medical care, psychosocial support, and legal aid from our partner organisations, they can also get referrals to other service providers and access information without fear of judgement or stigma, if they do not yet feel ready to speak directly with a counsellor.
“It can be a lifeline for survivors who may feel isolated, scared or unable to seek help in person” phido said.
She said an organisation in its 26th year of operation, ARDA-DCI, was a leading development communication, Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) in Nigeria.
She said the NGO focused on fostering sustainable development in Nigeria and across Africa by adopting and implementing culturally competent methodologies through an audience-centric approach.
She said over the years, ARDA-DCI. had partnered with international organisations, including UNICEF, John Hopkins University, USAID, and other leading private sector partners, to implement various social and behavioral change communication projects.
“During the lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, it was reported that over 3,600 cases of rape were recorded.
“A total of 11,200 rape cases, including children who were raped to death, were reported in 2020, according to UN Women.
“Between a period of September 2021 and July 2022, the Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice stated that the state recorded a total of 4,860 cases including cases of rape and domestic violence”.