Mrs Bisi Ajayi-Kayode, the Assistant Director of Cece Yara Foundation, a legal practitioner and child advocate spoke to dailyfamily.ng about the efforts of the foundation in dealing with sexual abuse cases in Lagos.
What is Cece Yara Foundation about?
Cece Yara was founded and established by Mrs. Bola Tinubu. The word ‘Cece Yara’ is a Hausa word that means ‘save the child’. The Foundation was established to fight child sexual abuse. Our clients are basically children within the age bracket of 0-18 years. There is an alarming statistics that 1 in every 4 girls and 1 in every 10 boys get sexually violated before they are 18 years of age.
We found out that 80 percent of perpetrators are people known to the children, people they love and trust, who are close and have regular access to them.
Just about 3.5 percent of prosecutions are done because of the inability of the children to make disclosures, to get help and the inability of adults to respond to the situation of child sexual abuse.
We are not leaving any child behind, every child is important to us. All our services are free and they can easily reach our child helpline, which is 08008008001, it is toll-free and is available 24/7. With this, they can call to report cases of child sexual abuse and we keep confidentiality, if you don’t want your identity to be disclosed, we will not do so.
We also do forensic interviews. This is a simple procedure in which a child is interviewed to disclose his or her views in order to help the investigation and prosecution of the case. Only one person interviews the child.
We have representatives from the Nigerian Police force. We also have medical doctors, and we are in partnership with the Lagos State Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Youth and Social Development. So, if any member of the team has an appointment with any child, it’s done in one single interview instead of traumatizing the child. The recorded interview is used to investigate and prosecute the matter.
What has been your most challenging case?
We have quite a number of them but somehow we have been able to get through. The most challenging cases are the ones that involve incest in which we try as much as possible not to put the family in jeopardy and to reconcile the non-offending members of the family. We also have instances in which perpetrators go the extra mile in their criminality to intimidate our clients from continuing the case either threatening to kill them or kidnapping but all that has not deterred us.
What do you see next?
We see next that in the nation especially in Lagos state that we will have more child advocacy centres with a lot of toll-free numbers for people to put a call to report child abuse cases and we see that there will be a viable legal framework for forensic interviewing in Nigeria in tackling child sexual abuse cases.