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Group protests against rape, sexual violence in Abuja

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A civil society organisation, Wanda Adu Foundation (WAF) which focuses on helping vulnerable women and children, has called on the Federal Government to end the scourge of rape and sexual violence against women and girls across the country. 

Leading a protest at the Unity Fountain, Abuja on Wednesday to demand end to rape and sexual violence, Wanda Adu, Executive Director of WAF lamented that perpetrators of such crimes against women and girls are often left off the hook while their victims live with the scars and stigmatisation for ever.

“We are tired. In a year, there are over 1,000 cases of sexual abuse and violence in Nigeria and when you check, you see that only two or three have been prosecuted,” she said.

“Is our government trying to tell us that rape is okay? What message are they sending when abusers are not punished for raping minors and women?”

Adu disclosed that her Foundation has received several reports of abuse often perpetrated by family members against minors, citing a case of a 5-year-old girl that was raped by a man in his 40s and left her with damaged organs.

Also speaking during the protest, Lemmy Ughegbe, Director of Make a Difference Initiative noted that rape used to be a virus in Nigeria  but now has now become a pandemic  capable of swallowing future generation.

Ughegbe who called on the government to act, cited a 2015 report by UNICEF, which reported that one in every four girl child in Nigeria is raped before her 18th birthday and one in every 10 boy child gets raped before his 18th birthday.

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According to him, the figures are much worse in 2020.

“Today, you can’t open the newspaper and not see at least two or three cases of rape. It’s happening all over the place,” he said.

Advising the government to take action, Ughegbe reiterated that there must be an intentional strategy and approach to dealing with cases of sexual and gender-based violence in the country.

He advised that all states should adopt the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act, which at the moment has been adopted by 11 out of 36 states in Nigeria.

During the protest that kicked-off at about 10am at the Unity Fountain, the protesters took to Unity displayed banners with various inscriptions condemning rape and sexual violence, asking for justice for victims and calling for punishment for perpetrators.

They clenched their fists as they demanded that the government put laws in place to hold perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence accountable for their actions.

The protest was supported by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) and Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR).

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On June 5, a group of Civil Society Organisations staged a protest at the Police headquarters in the FCT with calling for justice for victims of rape and punishment for offenders.

Among the CSOs that attended the protest were TechHerNG, Girl Child Africa, Connected Development, Enough is Enough Nigeria, Stand To End Rape, SilverChipFox, Yiaga Africa, Dorothy Njemanze Foundation, and Education as a Vaccine.

Part of their demands was that the leadership of the Nigeria Police should ensure prompt investigation and conclusion of rape and all sexual and gender-based violence cases across the country.

Seun Durojaiye is a journalist with International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).

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