BraveHeart Initiative, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) have organized a three day retreat for other NGOs, institutions in Edo State in some major areas of operations such as counseling, investigation and prosecution.

Speaking at the event, the initiator and founder of BHI, Priscilia Ikos Usiobaifo gave a brief background of the Organization.

She said that BHI is a youth led, feminist, non-governmental organization that promotes young people’s sexual reproductive health and advancing women’s rights in Nigeria and was established in April 2007 and registered with CAC with operational office at Igarra, Edo State.

The overall goal of BHI is to improve knowledge and understanding of sexual and reproductive rights as a means of achieving gender equality.

According to her, BHI is one of Nigeria’s leading nonprofits dedicated to responding to Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) and advocating for SGBV reforms.

Usiobaifo said the organisation’s efforts in strengthening the criminal justice system in Edo State have led to a significant increase in prosecution of SGBV cases as the team strongly believe that court conviction of sex offenders is an effective prevention.

“BraveHeart Initiative operationalize a multiprong approach to its SGBV intervention and has conceptualized a customized Case Management System. This include SGBV Case Investigations; SGBV Case Prosecution; SGBV Psychosocial Support; SGBV Socio-economic support; SGBV Legislative Advocacy and SGBV Institutional Strengthening”.

BHI she said began comprehensive SGBV interventions as the outcome of their In-School Sexuality Education Outreaches within the locality while its findings from interactions with adolescent girls and women from rural communities led to strategic planning for coordinated response to the outrageous number of cases of sexual harassment and assaults reported to the organisation.

Hence, BHI is remarkably leading response to SGBV in Edo State where it has not only broken the culture of silence but has also provided a safe place for children and women that are sexually assaulted.

According to her, BHI has facilitated conviction of 23 sex offenders in 22 sexual assault cases and that the organisation has completed 25 SGBV cases in court with 22 victories and 3 cases lost while 19 of these survivors/victims were children aged 17 and below minors while 3 of them were adults adding that 4 out of the 22 survivors/victims cases won, were persons with disabilities.

While taking them on the important of counseling, she advised that they should understand the situation more clearly and identify a range option for improving the situation. They should make choices that fit their values, feelings and need.

They should as well develop life skills such as being able to negotiate safety and personal wellbeing.

According to her, doctor, nurses, social workers and other care providers who have been specially trained in SGBV counseling are expected to be counselors.

She stated further that a good counsellor should understand all aspects of human rights/SRHR, SGBV knowledgeable, accurate, consistent, posses good communication skills and be familiar with counseling techniques.

He/she must be accessible and available for clients and able to deal with their reactions and to also be able to recognize their limitations and posses high level of self awareness.

They should be able to maintain confidentiality, be friendly, patient, respectful and observant.

They should not claim false qualifications and should reframe from making exaggerated claims about the effectiveness of the intervention offered by their service in relation to SGBV intervention and should make appropriate referral.

According to her, she said this year’s retreat have 46 participants from 25 NGOs and institutions while the next retreat would be for security agency and other stakeholders in the society.

The three day event which was held at the Filani Palace Hotel and Suites, Ososo, Akoko-Edo Local Government started with study tour and a visit to the Ososo tourist center which involves hike and successful climbing of the Oke hills at the rocks, a fitness walk from the Ososo tourist center to the Filani hotel.