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  • Authorities warn that gender-violence has risen during COVID-19 pandemic.

    Authorities warn that gender-violence has risen during COVID-19 pandemic. | Photo: Twitter/@ChildAdvocacyNG

Published 15 June 2020
Opinion

All 36 states in the country have declared an emergency over rape and other gender-based violence against women and children.

In Nigeria, one rape is reported every five hours, as there were 717 rapes in the country between January and May, as informed Monday by the country's Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu.

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"I will call on every Nigerian that comes across any victim of sexual offenses, rape or gender-based violence to quickly report to law enforcement agents because keeping quiet without reporting it will give room for the perpetrators to continue to commit the offenses," the official confirmed to the press after a meeting with Nigeria's president at the State House in the capital Abuja.

Adamu informed that 799 suspects have so far been arrested while 631 cases have been sent to court. Yet 52 cases are still under inquiry.

The country is undergoing a rape crisis that local authorities have warned might become more severe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week all 36 governors agreed to declare a state of emergency over rape and other gender-based violence against women and children, as protests sparked over the rape and killing of two Nigerian students between May 28 and June 1.

The Minister of Women’s Affairs acknowledged that rape has always happened in Nigeria, "but with the lockdown of people in homes because of COVID-19, women and children are locked down with their abusers.”

On June 11,  the Lagos Police Command informed that 32 separate cases of defilement, rape, incest, and sodomy have been reported by residents of the state in the last six months. As the police chief called on victims to denounce their attackers, Adamu also urged governors to establish offender registries in all of the states.

On the other hand, Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari said that his administration was determined to fight gender-based violence. However national law to tackle sexual violence is still a challenge in the country.

In 2015, the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, qualified by specialists as the most robust piece of legislation on gender-violence, was passed into law. The act establishes life imprisonment for rape offenders; 14 years imprisonment for offenders aged 14 and below, and it also provides a minimum of 20 years imprisonment without an option of fine for other age groups or persons who perpetrated the act.

Ever since, only 15 out of Nigeria's 36 states have adopted the legislation, which makes prosecuting the offenders a more complex task.

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