AGOO SHE+ Helpline offers hope to sexual violence victims

Social News Health professionals at the AGOO SHE+ Helpline call centre
JUN 17, 2022 LISTEN
Health professionals at the AGOO SHE+ Helpline call centre

Tamale, June 16 - The AGOO SHE+ Helpline has become a major source of support and care for victims of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) as it is helping to breathe a new life of hope for them.

It has also become reference point for people seeking information and education on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) to help them lead responsible and healthy lives.

Miss Mariam (not her real name), who is a 23-year old level 300 student of the University for Development Studies, said but for the SHE+ Helpline, she would have still haboured hatred and ill-feelings for men, which would have negatively impacted her sexual relationships with the opposite sex.

She narrated what she went through as a child in Tamale saying at age 13, she was defiled by her 17-year old cousin, and the ordeal made her to develop serious hatred for men, and she believed that she would not have normal sexual life again.

She said this experience lingered until in June, 2020 when she heard about the AGOO SHE+ Helpline where she placed a call to seek help.

She said after the call, through the support of the AGOO SHE+ Helpline, a psychologist was assigned to her, who took her through several counseling sessions to get over the experience and live normally.

She said after two months of counselling, “I felt fine. I didn’t feel that anger towards my cousin anymore, and for that matter, men. So, I feel that AGOO SHE+ Helpline really helped me. It has made a lot of impact in my life, and now I feel like I trust myself and my self-esteem is back. I feel like I now have a normal sexual life, and everything is fine.”

She added “I thank AGOO SHE+ Helpline for all that they have done for me. They really helped me overcome that challenge. I recommend AGOO SHE+ Helpline to every young boy or girl, who has any problem.”

Ms Lateefa (not her real name), an 18-year old form two student of Karaga Senior High School (SHS) and resident of Tamale, said her return to school was as a result of the support she received through the AGOO SHE+ Helpline.

She said she was forced into early marriage when was about to write her Basic Education Certificate Examinations (BECE) in 2020.

She said, after the BECE, the man captured her into his house in Tamale and locked her in the room for days and severally abused her until when she escaped and went to a Police Station in Tamale for support.

She said the Police gave her medical form to seek treatment at the hospital adding while at the hospital, the health workers treating her placed a call through the AGOO SHE+ Helpline to seek support for her.

She said upon her discharge from the hospital, a Team from the AGOO SHE+ Helpline provided shelter for her, took care of her until she fully recovered adding they had since been supporting her with some of her needs at the SHS.

She said “I thank AGOO SHE+ Helpline Team for all that they have been doing for me. They did everything for me, bought all my school’s prospectus. They helped me to continue my school. But for their support, I would have stopped there.”

AGOO SHE+ Helpline is a safe space for especially young people to access information (via toll free lines 5100 for MTN and 0800001122 for all networks) to make informed decisions on SGBV and SRHR issues such as menstruation, teenage pregnancy, child marriage, rape and defilement cases, and anything that affects the health of young persons.

The platform, which is operated and manned by health professionals, provides various services including giving information on SGBV and SRHR issues to young people as well as providing counselling services and referring them to social justice institutions and or health facilities, and any service point where they can easily access services.

The platform, which has been running for the past seven years, is part of a project being implemented by Savana Signatures with funding from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Miss Rahana Mohammed, Programmes Manager in-charge of the AGOO SHE+ Helpline at Savana Signatures said “If a person calls to report an issue bordering on rape or defilement, we refer them to DOVVSU to take up the matter. If they call for an issue about menstruation or teenage pregnancy, we counsel them on what they need to know about it. If the person is not satisfied, we link them up to the appropriate health facility.”

Ms Mohammed said the platform, which received on the average 15 calls a day, had been very helpful to many young people saying in view of this “We are looking at expanding across the country because we know there are a lot of health and psychosocial issues that people do not really feel comfortable to talk about. They do not even know where to go to for support but if this platform is nationwide, we are sure that people will access the platform and get the available health care services to address their issues. Young people, who call may opt to speak in a local language of their choice. The platform presently offers 10 local languages spoken in Ghana."

She, therefore, urged the public to take advantage of the platform to seek solution to SGBV and SRHR issues they face saying “If you have any health issue, you can easily call the platform for it to be addressed. If you see something happening that is affecting the welfare of young people especially when it comes to SGBV and SRHR, report it to the platform, and we will follow up and see how we can support the person.”

Albert Futukpor
Albert Futukpor

News ReporterPage: AlbertFutukpor