The menace of rape has become an increasingly prominent issue in Nigeria recently.
There are many factors that make women in this part of the world more vulnerable to abuse, especially rape. There are so many unanswered questions about the reasons behind it, as well as why it seems to be worsening by the hour.
The cases of rape in the country is increasing by the day. These past weeks have served as a deadly reminder that Nigerian women and girls are not safe.
We have seen an increase in the number of women violated across the Country. Women do not feel safe in Nigeria today. Few cases are reported and lots of cases never get reported.
Vera Uwaila Omozuwa
A 22-year old girl, Vera Uwaila Omozuwa was raped and brutally murdered in a church building in Benin City, Edo State on May 27, 2020. The promising young girl, a 100 level Biochemistry student at the University of Benin, was taken away in her prime while she was studying in the church. She died on May 31, at the University of Benin Teaching hospital.
On May 26, 2020, two members of the Nigerian Police fatally shot 17-year-old Tina Ezekwe at Iyana Iworo area of Lagos State. Ezekwe died two days later from the gunshot that pierced through her thigh. Nigerians especially those who have witnessed the incident have let no stone unturned to ensure that justice is meted on the trigger-happy police officers.
Also, 11 men were arrested for raping a 12-year-old girl in Dutse Local Government Area in Jigawa state on June 1st.
And on that same day, it was reported that an 18-year-old, Bakarat Bello was raped and stabbed to death in Ibadan, Oyo State, after a group of yet to be identified men stormed their home located at Akinyele Kara market, they met her taking her bath and macheted her to death.
Even more recently is a disturbing message of a two-year-old who was brutally beaten up by her mum after she was caught having sex with a man. Her mum however referred to the little child as a prostitute, for constantly seeking the affection of the said pedophile.
These cases are filling our media space every day, even with many more others that go unreported. Unfortunately, 55 percent of women and girls ages 15-49 who have experienced sexual or physical violence in Nigeria did not seek help or support. Violence against women and girls in Nigeria has become pervasive and normalized.
It is said that one in four girls in Nigeria have experienced violence before the age of 18. Women and girls live in a state of constant vigilance and fear of being raped, violated or assaulted in their homes, places of worship, schools, workplace, markets…everywhere. This pandemic however requires stiffer penalties,m and urgent and comprehensive response.
Rape as is a global concern and not limited to Nigeria as other countries have their fair share of this menance. Statistics show that in North America, there is a high probability of a woman being a victim of sexual assault during her life time.
A Ugandan court sentenced a teenage girl to a six-hour jail term for killing her rapist father. The 58-year-old man had been raping the daughter repeatedly from the time she was 13 years old. Between 2009 to 2012 there were an estimated 78,000 victims of rape per year in England and Wales consisting of 69,000 females and 9,000 males.
A woman is raped in India every 20 minutes. Six men riding in a Bus in New Delhi, Indian’s Capital, raped and battered a 23year old female medical student and she died as a result of the fatal internal injuries. The death of this Indian rape victim sent shivers around the globe, exposing how the sad trend is affecting many societies and putting more women at risk.
It will be recalled that in 2015, the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Bill was passed into law as the Violence Against Persons Act (VAPP) and five years later, it has only been fully domesticated in nine states, Anambra, Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Benue, Kaduna, Enugu, Ebonyi, and Edo states. Women, girls and other vulnerable persons need a robust law in their states that prevents GBV, protects survivors and punishes perpetrators.
In the remaining 27 states, existing laws only address certain forms of SGBV with limited definitions of rape and redress thus still leaving huge gaps in protections for women and girls. This means that the VAPP act contains provisions that are needed to provide an environment that ensures the right of women and girls to a life free of violence and a life of dignity.
Nigeria women and girls can be said to be under siege, as their safety and security will be determined by the decisions made by state governors in reviewing the laws and penalties perpetrators face in the next few days and months. Women and girls need more than promises; they need an urgent declaration of a State of Emergency in every state in Nigeria. And an important reminder is that the incidence of GBV cases increased by 56 per cent between the month of March and April during the COVID-19 crisis.Follow us on social media