I have practised law for over 25 years and I have been actively involved in the promotion and protection of women’s rights in Nigeria. I founded Mirabel Centre, to provide free medical and psychosocial support to survivors of rape and sexual assault. I drafted the first-ever Domestic Violence Bill in Nigeria and engaged in the advocacy campaign for its passage into law in 12 states and at the National Assembly. Here is my story:
In 2000, I traveled across Nigeria in a bid to lobby the Domestic Violence Bill’s passage into the law. It was during this travel I came across a young girl who told me a story about her abuse. I was touched by her story and this experience was what planted the first seed to start the first rape referral centre in Nigeria- Mirabel Centre. With particular reference to funding for the Mirabel Centre, I got a call asking permission to give my phone number to someone from the British Council who was having series of meetings with civil society organizations on what activities on women’s rights could be funded under the Justice for All Programme. After several meetings with a couple of consultants spanning 2 years, we finally signed the contract for the establishment of the Mirabel Centre.
The British Council has had quite a huge impact on me. Sometime in 2003, the British Council sponsored me on a trip to Manchester to attend a seminar on Violence Against Women. It was on this trip that I paid a visit to St Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre, a place where survivors could receive professional and timely support to overcome the trauma of rape and sexual assault. Having been confronted with this issue just before leaving for the trip, I was impressed and immediately made up my mind to open the centre. It is instructive that 10 years down the line, it was also the same British Council that provided the funding to establish the Mirabel Centre. Without this support, it would have been really difficult to establish the centre in 2013. As at December 2017, the centre had provided services to over 3100 clients from different parts of Lagos State. #KnowMoreDoMore
The Justice For All programme supports Nigerian-led reform of the justice sector. The British Council works alongside counterparts from the entire justice community: the courts, the police, anti-corruption agencies and civil society, to help develop the capacity, accountability and responsiveness of the sector in delivering Justice For All Nigerians. For more details on our works in the society and how you can get involved, visit http://bit.ly/2HVWnGq