PRESS STATEMENT: #SAY ENOUGH TO VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS IN NIGERIA

 

The gendered power dynamics and inequalities in Nigerian society are highly evident in the particular risk of gender-based violence that women and girls face. Widespread harmful traditional practices exist, including widow abuse, early and forced marriage, and female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C). It is estimated that 27% of women aged 15 to 49 years have undergone some form of FGM/C. Domestic and sexual violence are of particular concern, with particular regional characteristics- 30% of Nigerian women and girls (age 15-49 years) have experienced some form of physical and/or sexual violence, with higher rates in the south-south zone (52%). Single women (divorced, separated or widowed) experience higher risk across all zones (44%). The Nigerian multiple indicator cluster report (MICS) of 2011, revealed that 46% of Nigerian women believe that a husband has a right to hit or beat them for at least one reason.

Violence against women and girls(VAWG) is rooted in unequal power relations that are further reinforced by social and gender norms that normalize and justify VAWG, including rape. The increasing incidents of rape against women and girls speak to underlying social norms that make it acceptable for men to feel entitled to women’s bodies without their consent.

COVID-19 has increased the risk of gender-based violence, particularly, domestic violence and this is notable in the recent incidences of gender based violence across the country, since the lock down and restricted movement came into force in Nigeria. Speaking at a forum in Abuja, the Honorable Minister of Information and Culture Mr. Lai Mohammed said, the Government will do everything possible to stem the growing tide of the ‘‘rape pandemic’’ with an alarming figure of 717 reported cases of rape in the country between January to May, 2020

On the 27th of May, 2020, Vera Uwaila Omozuwa, a 22-year-old Microbiology student who sought the quiet of her empty church in Benin City, Edo State in southern Nigeria, as a place to study was raped and killed in a crime that has sparked outrage across Nigeria and beyond. This ugly incident led groups of protesters to march across the country to demand justice for Uwa. The hashtag #JusticeforUwa has been trending on social media in Nigeria ever since

The Nigerian police recently reported arresting a man after he raped 40 people in Kano State over the period of a year. A mother in the northern town of Dangora, a small town about 85 kilometres south-west of Kano city, making it difficult for police to access,

reported that a man was caught in her children's bedroom. The man ran away but neighbours gave chase and caught him and he was arrested on Tuesday the 9th of June by the Nigerian Police Force.

The police say the spate of rapes in Kano State included an attack on an 80-year-old and children as young as 10 years old. The Police also stated that there has been a recent wave of rape and killing of women in Nigeria, which have led to a national outcry, with thousands signing a petition and using the hashtag #WeAreTired. We stand in solidarity with all fellow Nigerians, likeminded groups and institutions to condemn the incessant incidences of gender based violence, including sexual violence. We are aware that under the Nigerian criminal code, the VAPP and Child Right Act, the punishment for rape is life imprisonment, and under the Penal code it is a maximum of 14 year imprisonment. Recorded incidences of unprosecuted rape cases in the country shows however that these laws are not being fully implemented.

We are therefore calling on all the relevant authorities to act swiftly in arresting and prosecuting perpetrators of these evil acts and ensure that they face the full wrath of the law to deter all other possible perpetrators of rape.

Oxfam in Nigeria, is an International Non-Governmental Organization that works to influence policy change in favour of the poor and most vulnerable and addresses the impact of oppressive masculinities in Nigeria. Oxfam also has an active global campaign on ending all forms of violence against women and girls, the ‘‘Say Enough Campaign’’.

On the platform of her ‘‘say enough to gender based violence campaign’’, Oxfam has decided to issue this press release to join voices with all other Civil Society activists and concerned Nigerian citizens regarding the recent recorded rape incidents across the country. We are condemning these recent ugly trends, and are therefore calling on the relevant authorities to act fast and take the necessary actions. #Say Enough to violence against women and girls.