© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
US indicts Nigeria in new report over weak law on women protection
THE United State Government says Nigerian Government has been flippant about issues affecting women, particularly rape, battery and other forms of violence against womenfolks.
In its latest report on Human Rights Practices in Nigeria, the US observed that Nigeria lacks all-inclusive regulation that could effectively address violence against women across the nation.
Though the report recognises the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act which seeks to check physical, psychological and sexual violence against women, it noted that only very few numbers of states have domesticated the law in their respective states.
The states include Kaduna, Anambra, Oyo, Benue, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Osun and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
“There is no comprehensive law for combating violence against women that applies across the country,” the report says.
“Victims and survivors had little or no recourse to justice. While some, mostly southern, states enacted laws prohibiting some forms of gender-based violence or sought to safeguard certain rights, a majority of states did not have such legislation.”
“…Because the VAPP has only been adopted in a handful of states, state criminal codes continued to govern most rape and sexual assault cases and typically allowed for lesser sentences.”
Rape, for instance, is regarded as a criminal offence in the country, but the report questioned why rape cases have been on the increase with less number of prosecutions.
It made reference to March 2019 report by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) which shows that, one in four girls and one in 10 boys were victims of sexual violence prior to their 18th birthday.
Aside, it identified the case of a university student, who was raped by an enlisted soldier on 31 July, at a military checkpoint in Ondo State.
The police authority, the report noted has been unhelpful in certain situations particularly at rural communities where the victims are perceived as the cause of sexual abuse and assaults.
Though sexual abuse issues are gradually gaining attention, following several reports on assaults, it stated that Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Civil Society groups are demanding more pragmatic steps from the relevant governments.
State governments are particularly urged to either design an appropriate law to check the menace or domesticate the violence against persons prohibition act.
“Sentences for persons convicted of rape and sexual assault were inconsistent and often minor…Police often refused to intervene in domestic disputes or blamed the victim for provoking the abuse. In rural areas courts and police were reluctant to intervene to protect women who formally accused their husbands of abuse if the level of alleged abuse did not exceed local customary norms,” the report added.