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She's on the frontline of a rape epidemic. The pandemic has made her work more dangerous

June 23, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Updated 5:12 AM ET, Tue June 23, 2020

"Rape is an epidemic in this country," DaSilva-Ibru told CNN.

DaSilva-Ibru said she initially closed the center after authorities locked down the city in March, she had to reconsider the decision as the organization became inundated with SOS messages from sexual violence victims and their guardians.

Women were calling and desperately asking how we can help them, these were women in fear of their lives, as many have now been forced into quarantine with their abusers, in an already volatile environment," DaSilva-Ibru told CNN.

The challenges Ibru faces to keep the center open, doesn't compare to what sexual violence victims have experienced as a result of this pandemic, she said.

DaSilva-Ibru recalls a woman who told staff at the center that her male friend had raped her in her home during the lockdown.

But placing women in shelters, especially in countries battling an outbreak, comes with the additional burden of proof, according to DaSilva-Ibru who said shelters in Lagos city are asking survivors to take coronavirus tests before they can be admitted to prevent infection in their facilities.

Authorities in Lagos designated gender-based violence services essential in May as it eased lockdown into curfews to allow service providers to get to work more smoothly, DaSilva-Ibru said.

It's the first time federal and state authorities are coming out with a united voice to condemn gender violence, DaSilva-Ibru said and it validates the outcry of women in the country and the scale of the problem in Nigeria, she added.

"Violence against women and girls is one of the most pervasive forms of a human rights violation and should be recognized by all countries," DaSilva-Ibru said.

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