The “State of Emergency GBV Movement”, has decried the rise in cases of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) in Nigeria.
The movement, a coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), said on Monday in Abuja at a media conference that sexual and gender-based violence especially against women and girls have rather risen, one year after the State of Emergency on GBV was declared by Nigerian state governors.
They demanded that the remaining 18 states yet to domesticate the Child Rights Act (CRA), and the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act must do so immediately.
They lamented that Nigeria ranks 7th most dangerous country for women to live in, which calls for urgent action against gender-based violence (GBV), across the country to protect women and girls.
They said that during the COVID-19 outbreak and the consequent nationwide lockdown, Nigeria witnessed a disturbing surge in cases of SGBV, despite that before the pandemic, violent and domestic attacks on women were common.
“However, the lockdowns caused a significant spike in the incidents, resulting in an alarming increase in brutality and death. According to the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (2018), 30 percent of girls and women between the ages of 15 and 49 reported being subjected to sexual abuse.
They noted that the Lagos State Domestic and Gender Violence Response Team reported a total of 3193 cases of gender-based violence between January and December 2020 alone and that the statistics are similarly dire across the rest of the country.
They also listed several cases of unresolved sexual violence against women and girls.
“A year ago, on the 3rd of June 2020, we launched the #StateOfEmergencyGBV Movement following the death of the 22-year-old Vera Uwaila Omozuwa, to advocate for urgent actions to prevent the scourge of sexual and gender-based violence and respond to incidents sustainably, prioritising health, justice, and redress for survivors.
“We are hoping that answers to these questions will be provided through the Freedom of Information requests we sent to the Nigeria Governors Forum, the Nigeria Police Force, the Inter-Ministerial Committee on the Eradication of Sexual & Gender-based Violence, the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development and the National Human Rights Commission. Today marks seven days since the FoI requests were sent, the maximum number of days required by the law to respond to such request.
“The murder of 22-year-old Vera Uwaila Omozuwa, who was gang-raped and clubbed to death inside the Ikpoba Hill branch of Redeemed Christian Church of God in Benin City, Edo State, in May 2020, is still being litigated one year after.
“Around the same time, a 12-year-old was raped by a 57-year-old man and 11 others in Jigawa State. Grace Oshiagwu, Barakat Bello, and Azeezat Somuyiwa were raped and gruesomely murdered in Ibadan. One year after, what has changed? Where is justice for them?
“In April this year, Iniobong Umoren, a graduate of the University of Uyo, was allegedly raped and killed by Uduak Akpan, who, under the guises of possible employment, lured her to her death in Akwa Ibom State.
“On Tuesday, June 1, 2021, Olajide Omowumi Blessing, a 300-level student of the University of Ilorin was sexually assaulted and killed by rapists. There are countless other incidents too numerous to mention.
“It is imperative to highlight that the prosecution of Kogi State Commissioner for Water Resources, Abdulmumuni Danga, accused of assaulting Elizabeth Oyeniyi on March 29th, 2020, has stalled.
“Similarly, the accusations levelled against the Ogun State Commissioner for Environment, Abiodun Abdul-Balogun, accused of attempting to rape a 16-year-old schoolgirl on December 31st, 2020, remain un-investigated,” they said.
They recalled that in November 2020, they sent individually signed letters to the 527 members of State Houses of Assembly and the 18 governors in the 18 states yet to domesticate the VAPP Act.
They said, “While a few of these states have taken steps to adopt the law and others are at different stages of its passage, we are concerned with the implementation and enforcement strategies in the states who have passed the law.
“Therefore, we restate the demand for the domestication of the VAPP Act in all 36 States and the FCT to enable a nationally coordinated implementation strategy against GBV. We have also noticed some states are adopting a watered-down version of the VAPP Act, significantly reducing the punishments for violence against women and girls. This is not acceptable.”