The Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla Shand, has been announced as the patron of Mirabel Centre, Nigeria’s pioneer Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC).
This was contained in a statement shared by the centre and obtained by PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday.
The management of the centre said the duchess fits the title having worked in the sexual and gender based violence space globally.
The statement reads in part: “We are pleased that the Duchess has agreed to be our patron. We have followed her work with charities working in the sexual and gender-based violence space and have seen how passionate and committed The Duchess is towards providing support for survivors.
“Indeed, this announcement is timely considering the devastating nature of sexual violence and the increased advocacy for survivor support services which has led to an increase in the number of survivors who require the services of the centre.
“The current COVID-19 pandemic has further revealed the endemic nature of sexual violence. We have seen a huge number of children and women coming forward to report cases of sexual assault and rape.
“Our youngest survivor is a 3-month-old baby and the oldest, an 80-year-old woman. We are confident that the support of The Duchess will make a difference.”
About Mirabel centre
The centre which was founded by Itoro Eze-Anaba in July 2013, provides succour for survivors of rape and sexual assault.
According to the statement, survivors who have recently or in the past been sexually assaulted access free post-incident support services at the Centre.
“In the last eight years, the Mirabel Centre has provided free medical and psychosocial support services to over 6,450 survivors (including persons with disabilities),” the statement reads in part.
Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) is a global epidemic ravaging all levels of society, and one of the most prevalent and devastating human rights violations.
It cuts across all social, national, economic boundaries and, sadly, remains largely unreported due to the stigma and shame too often associated with survivors, and the impunity too often enjoyed by the perpetrators.
Duchess of Cornwall
For several years, Ms Shand 74, has highlighted the work of domestic abuse and sexual assault charities in the UK and overseas in supporting victims and survivors, with the aim of breaking the taboo around the subject.
Mrs Shand has visited shelters and support centres around the world and in 2020 became Patron of the UK domestic abuse charity SafeLives.
She has attended round table discussions on domestic abuse in Australia in 2015, in New Zealand in 2019, and as part of the Women’s Forum at CHOGM in London in 2018.
The Duchess visited Nigeria together alongside the Prince of Wales in 2018 when her engagements included joining a discussion hosted by the Women of the World Festival (WOW).
At the 2018 event, she reportedly said; “Women get together to discuss things that matter to them so I think especially here in Nigeria it is a fantastic place to start.”
Mrs Shand said she is delighted to become patron of the sexual assault centre.
“I am delighted to become Patron of the Mirabel Centre in Lagos. It is a truly trailblazing organisation, supporting survivors of rape and sexual assault as they seek healing and justice.
“Their vital work means that women need no longer suffer in silence and I am deeply grateful to all Mirabel’s wonderful staff and volunteers,” she said.
The Duchess of Cornwall is a member of the British Royal Family. She is married to the HRH Prince of Wales, heir to the British throne.
Speaking also, the UK’s High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing said: “I am absolutely delighted that HRH The Duchess of Cornwall has agreed to become Patron of the Mirabel Centre in Lagos Nigeria.
“In this role, she will help showcase the essential work the Mirabel Centre does to support sufferers of sexual assault and domestic abuse.
“The Duchess of Cornwall has been a long-standing supporter of women who have suffered from these crimes.”