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"fight against the stigma"

In Port Harcourt, Nigeria, ongoing awareness-raising is bolstered by more intense campaigns, such as a University drive last September, at the beginning of the scholastic year. 

Medical Team Leader Kiera Sargeant and Mental Health Activity Manager Clare Brennan were both involved in the outreach campaign.

”At the universities we did presentations to different faculties and distributed posters and flyers, as well as meeting with the health clinics on campus.  There are high numbers of students attending tertiary institutions in Port Harcourt. Female students are particularly vulnerable and often targets of sexual violence. Our team has been proactive in identifying the various student bodies and then making the contact and building the relationships to disseminate the information. 

We also liaised with the police stations close to campus, distributing posters and pamphlets to all, and giving talks to the officers. It was satisfying to see the results of the campaign, when we started to receive sexual violence victims from various universities and police stations.  Awareness-raising like this not only encourages people to seek health care, it also helps the fight against the stigma attached to sexual violence.

One 20 year-old female student was in her university hostel when a group of boys came into the house with guns and told her that they didn’t want anything from her, they just wanted to rape her and if she refused, they would shoot her. Thanks to posters that had been put on campus she learned about the Médecins Sans Frontières clinic and came to seek treatment.”