Governors of Nigeria’s 36 states have unanimously declared a state of emergency, after a series of high-profile cases of violence perpetrated against women sparked nationwide protests by activists both online and at rallies.
The governors made the commitment, announced on Friday, via an umbrella body the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) which “exists to foster collaboration amongst the country's executive governors on matters of public policy and to promote good governance,” according to its website.
As part of their declaration, the governors also called on all states to immediately launch sex offender registries and push for tougher federal punishment for abuse and violence against women.
"I am particularly upset at recent incidents of rape, especially of very young girls. The police are pursuing these cases with a view to bringing perpetrators of these heinous crimes to swift justice," President Muhammadu Buhari said in a televised Democracy Day address, on June 12.
"I wish to assure all our women of this administration's determination to fight gender-based violence through the instrumentality of the law and awareness creation,” he continued.
An inter-ministerial committee will be inaugurated immediately to propose legislative changes to ensure that sexual violence is dealt with in line with international best practices, said Nigeria’s Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami, according to the Washington Post.
Nigeria has very low conviction rates for rape cases — which contributes further to gender-based violence because perpetrators aren’t held to account.
In 2011 (the most recent figures available), there were 283 reported cases of sexual abuse of children in Lagos State yet only 10 were prosecuted and convicted. In May 2019, a senator was reportedly caught on camera repeatedly slapping a woman, but was never charged. Countless other stories like this are partly responsible for the recent spotlight on sexual and gender-based violence in Nigeria.
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