Nigeria’s failure to tackle rape emboldens perpetrators, silences survivors – Amnesty International

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Amnesty International (AI) has condemned Nigeria’s handling of rape cases in strong terms.

The human rights organization noted that despite authorities’ declaration of a “state of emergency”, sexual assault persists with most survivors denied justice.

AI observed perpetrators are avoiding prosecution, with hundreds of cases of rape going unreported due to pervasive corruption, stigma and victim blaming.

Its latest report, ‘Nigeria: A Harrowing Journey; Access To Justice for Women and Girls Survivors of Rape’, covers cases of sexual violence against women and girls, including a 6-year-old and an 11-year-old who died after rape.

The report said cultural stereotypes, failures of law enforcement to investigate rape cases, toxic misogyny and insufficient support for survivors, have created a culture of silence and impunity which continues to fail hundreds of victims.

Osai Ojigho, AI Director in Nigeria regretted that concrete actions have not been taken to tackle the rape crisis in Africa’s largest nation.

Ojigho condemned the system for making it increasingly difficult for survivors and the deceased to get justice, while allowing culprits to get away with gross human rights violations.

The lawyer and gender equality advocate said the fear of not being believed, or being blamed for rape is creating a dangerous culture of quietude that prevents survivors from seeking justice.

“It is unacceptable that survivors of rape and other forms of gender-based violence face such a torturous ordeal to get justice, which only adds to their pain.

“The ‘state of emergency’ has proven to be an empty declaration, which has so far done nothing to protect women and girls in Nigeria”, Ojigho protested.

The report is based on research carried out between March 2020 and August 2021, including interviews with 14 women and girl survivors of rape aged between 12 and 42.

AI researchers also spoke with seven parents of child survivors. Interviews were conducted in Abuja, Lagos, Kano, Sokoto and Bauchi States.

During the COVID-19-induced lockdown, Nigeria witnessed an upsurge in cases of rape. The police confirmed 717 incidents between January and May 2020.

Women Affairs Minister, Pauline Tallen announced that at least 3,600 cases of rape were recorded during the lockdown.

Again, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) received 11,200 reported cases of rape in 2020.

Vera Uwaila Omosuwa, a 22-year-old microbiology student, was beaten and raped in 2020 in a church near her home in Benin, Edo. She died days later.

DAILY POST reported her sister’s revelation of how the police demanded bribes when the matter was reported.

5-year-old Hamira was drugged and raped by her neighbour in April 2020. Her injuries were so bad she could no longer control her bladder.

18-year-old Barakat Bello, an 18-year-old student, was raped during a robbery in her home in Ibadan, Oyo State. She was struck with machetes and died on June 1, 2020.

11-year-old Favour Okechukwu was gang-raped to death in Ejigbo, Lagos; a 70-year-old woman was raped in Ogun; In May 2021, a 6-year-old girl was raped to death in Kaduna.

In June 2020, the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) called for death sentence as a punishment for rapists in Nigeria.

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