The war against Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in Benue State has recorded a major milestone as the State Governor, Samuel Ortom commissioned the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) named Dohapitu Clinic, designed to cater for the “health, psycho-social, legal and socio-economic” needs of survivors of SGBV.
Governor Ortom who described SGBV as “an evil we must all fight” pointed out that men too suffer abuse and urged the Benue SARC to cater for abused men as well as women who are predominantly at the receiving end of abuse.
He prescribed early sensitisation of children about the menace of SGBV rather than the silence that breeds ignorance capable of ruining their lives.
The Governor hailed the doggedness of his wife, Dr. Eunice Ortom in executing the war on SGBV and thanked all those who aid her in this daunting task.
Governor Ortom who said he was responsible for the safety of everyone – indigenes and non-indigenes alike – within the Benue boundary, lamented the recent brutal attacks on vulnerable persons at the internally displaced persons camps in the State which left many dead and others maimed for life. He promised to always work within the confines of the law and sympathised with families who lost loved ones in a recent attack in Nassarawa State.
Speaking earlier, First Lady and Founder, Eunice Spring of Life Foundation (ESLF), Dr. Eunice Ortom thanked the State Government for providing the counterpart funding for the Benue SARC and affirmed that the centre would live up to expectation and protect vulnerable survivors of SGBV.
Dr. Ortom who was represented by the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs. Tabitha Igirgi expressed optimism that the centre would open up the pathways to many opportunities, collaborations and partnerships that would better the lot of people in the State.
On her part, Coordinator of the SARC, Dr. Laadi Swende who thanked the State First Lady for envisioning the establishment of the centre pointed out that the DOHAPITU Centre as a “one-stop shop”, would provide holistic care including emergency care, family planning, prevention of sexually transmitted infection, psycho social care (short and long term), legal and law enforcement services as well as economic empowerment for SGBV survivors.
She explained that the inclusive name DOHAPITU was a coinage from the native terms Dooshima (in Tiv), Ohaha (in Igede), Okpikutu (in Etulo) and Ihotu (in Idoma) which all mean love, resonating the care and compassion which the SARC stands for.
Other speakers including Commissioner for Health and Human Services, Dr. Joseph Ngbea, Chief Medical Director of the Benue State University Teaching Hospital (BSUTH), Prof. Terrumun Swende both thanked the State Government for prioritizing health matters and the State First Lady for remaining ever-supportive of vulnerable persons in the State.
When the establishment of the Sexual Assault Referral Centre was pronounced by the First Lady on December 10th, 2022 the last day of 16-Days of Activism against SGBV, it was greeted with an applause.
50 short days later, this pronouncement has become a reality: a fully functional clinic for vulnerable survivors who have being badly battered by the blows of domestic brutality and buffeted by the storm of sexual molestation; offering them health and hope, safety and succour…and a temporary “home” away from home.