A couple of months ago, two young Nigerian women lost their lives at the hands of violence. One case was 16-year-old Tina Ezekwe who was a victim of police brutality, the other was 22-year-old Uwaila Omozuwa who was sexually assaulted and murdered in Edo State. These two cases combined with the allegations made against D’Banj were another reminder of the culture of rape that pervades Nigerian society. It also raises questions on the possibilities of what could be offered as a solution to complement and improve upon the work being done by NGOs campaigning against sexual violence.
A team of engineers at Aabo has joined forces with Mirabel Centre to offer emergency services available at the flick of a thumb. For anyone who might be in danger of rape, police harassment, health or fire emergencies, Aabo was launched in May 2020 as a solution and also by offering a preventive measure. Soyem Osakwe of the Mirabel Centre says “I think why it is very important is because it’s a preventive measure. If a person were to feel unsafe, especially now with kids going back to school, they can trigger an alert and that’s where we come in by sending someone to pick them or calling them and monitoring their locations till they get to us… It’s revolutionary in the terms of the hope it brings to survivors”. In speaking of sending someone to pick up a person in danger, Osakwe was probably referring to the existence of a partnership between Bolt and Mirabel Centre to help in cases of stranded victims.
Said to carry a “mandate” to give free medical care and psychosocial support for survivors of sexual violence, Mirabel Centre has been relentless in its quest to put a stop to rape, and at the bare minimum, provide absolute transparency into recurring cases. Taking this step with the Aabo team during the rape crisis could be said to be an expected move, but there’s more. Described as a “passion project”, both co-founders of the Aabo app, having had personal experiences in emergencies, are making it as relatable as possible. They have “borne the financial cost” and used their expertise to create a social tool at a time when it couldn’t be more needed. “We’re working the data and we believe in the solution and we know that, yes, this could solve the problem,” says Sylva Elendu of Aabo.
“Aabo started as a solution to a problem… We’ve had a fair share of all the things we are solving for… The development of Aabo is not determined by our technical expertise or our areas of specialization. Working with Soyem and the Mirabel Centre is indicative of that. We sort of, seek to understand the problem and then source for partnerships that could provide the solution”
Victor Idongesit, Aabo.
The success of Aabo’s collaboration with the Mirabel Centre is made foreseeable with the preventive concept of the service. Most rape cases are inconclusive for lack of evidence, and even worse, many do not get as far as the trial stage. The app with its many varied, and constantly improving features are our one step away to cutting the statistics in half.
Both Victor and Sylva recognize that there is still a long way to go even though they have high hopes and the plans are well in place as it seems “There’s quite a lot to the app, there’s a history… how it has grown from where it has started to where it is now. We still need the structure to be able to say what areas to focus on our own.” The app is only available online, by download and pre-sign up, making it inaccessible to uneducated people or people without smartphones. Not willing to disclose any information about the interactivity on the platform, all the stakeholders are just interested in getting the show on the road through awareness.