Nigeria: Human rights organization laments “rape pandemic” |

As of: 11/29/2021 4:01 a.m.

The National Human Rights Commission documented over 11,000 rape cases in the African country in 2020. The authorities often look the other way – despite public protests.

By Dunja Sadaqi, ARD-Studio Nordwestafrika

I was raped by my neighbor, I told my sister and we wanted to go to the police. Before the female police officer examined my private parts to see if I had been raped at all, they asked for money for the transport. Some of the police made fun of me and asked if I enjoyed it.

An Amnesty International video interview. What a 13-year-old girl from Nigeria says in it is part of the documentation in the newly published report by the human rights organization. What she reports is not an isolated case.

Dunja Sadaqi
ARD-Studio Discount

“The police will never listen, they won’t even allow you to express how you feel. Even when you cry, they say shut up! Something like that has happened to others too …” said the 13-year-old.

Stigma and blame

Amnesty International’s report reflects the experiences of 14 women and girls who were raped between the ages of 12 and 42 and their families. The Amnesty Report alleged that officials often failed to investigate sexual violence.

Stigmatization and the assignment of blame led to the fact that many victims remained silent – this was an additional encouragement for perpetrators, explains Esther Ikubaje from Amnesty International Nigeria: “A key finding is how security forces react to these rape cases – especially when the survivors report the rape to the authorities. Many are stigmatized, embarrassed and abused for sharing their experiences. What we are trying to do with this report is to document the difficulty of getting justice. We spoke to a victim who went to the police and her was even harassed and attacked by the police. ”

The numbers in Nigeria shocked many: over 11,000 rapes were reported in the West African country last year. The number of unreported cases is significantly higher – because victims did not dare to report the crime, says Adaora Onyechere.

Thousands on the street

The Ambassador heads the African Union Committee on Women’s Affairs. Prosecution of violence against women is far too lax in Nigeria, according to human rights organizations. Investigations often fizzled out, says Onyechere: “According to the reports, 26 percent of respondents say they know someone who has been raped and that rape victims are mostly minors and young adults between the ages of 1 and 15. This statistic suggests that that one in three girls has experienced at least some form of sexual abuse before they are 25 years old. ”

Particularly brutal cases, in which the often young victims die, have caused outrage in Nigeria. In the summer of 2020, thousands of women in Nigeria took to the streets and called for an end to the violence. The Nigerian government has promised to look more closely at the issue. There should be new laws. More and better trained police, the population should be made more aware in order to break the silence, a state of emergency due to sexual and gender-specific violence has been declared.

But nothing really has changed, say women’s rights organizations. Activist Dorothy Njemanze says the lockdown last year has exacerbated violence against women. But she does not see the problem only in weak laws. “Before Corona, my organization had ten to twelve cases reported per week and during the lockdown 47 per day. Most of those at risk of suicide are minors. And these are only the cases that my organization handles. The laws only exist on paper and are not enforced. What penalties are there for those responsible if they fail to enforce the law?

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