By Sandie Syke
On the new democracy day Friday, June 12, 2020, the Nigerian Governors’ Forum declared a state of emergency on rape and gender-based violence and asked all states to set up a sex offender’s registry and tighten the laws punishing rape and violence against women.
The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, described rape as a menace and said the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) was examining its gender response unit to speed up investigations into those cases, including deploying more detectives to its gender desk.
The forum also called on governors yet to domesticate relevant gender-based protection laws, including the Violence against Persons (Prohibition) Act, the Child Rights Act, and the updated Penal Code to do so.
This was as a result of the increased spate of rapes and gender-based violence during the Covid-19 lockdown period.
Sexual and Gender-based violence includes intimate partner violence, sexual assault, harmful cultural practices, and child marriage among others. Such violence can lead to physical and mental incapacitation and impedes gender equality.
Before this date, about 1 in 4 women in Nigeria had experienced intimate partner violence, and 44% of children had been married off before the age of 18 according to studies done by National Population Commission and International Coaching Federation in 2014 and UNICEF in 2017 respectively.
A UNICEF study in 2014 stated that one in four girls have experienced sexual violence and that of these, 70.5% had experienced multiple incidents.
Since the declaration, not very many studies have been done, but there has been an increase in the number of states that have domesticated the Violence against Persons Prohibition Act created in 2015, with the new entrants being Bauchi, Akwa Ibom, Kwara, and Abia states according to the VAPP tracker published by the Partners West Africa Nigeria (PWAN). Unfortunately, this leaves 19 states yet to domesticate this Act as of December 5th, 2020.
The police force has since paraded suspects in the rape and murder of two women however not much else has been heard in the mainstream media about these cases, it is the hope that justice will be served.
There is still a lot more work to be done to eradicate sexual and gender-based violence in Nigeria and this should be the concern of all citizens.
Photocred: Political Analysis, South Africa