Nigeria: Amnesty International denounces inaction on rape which “emboldens attackers”

In a recent report, Amnesty International denounces the plight of rape crimes in Nigeria. According to the NGO, lack of justice for the victims, “rape persists at crisis level”. “Rapists escape prosecution, and hundreds of cases go unreported due to widespread corruption, stigma and blaming the victims.”, says Amnesty.

A situation that was already echoed the Deutsch Welle in a 2020 article. “Officially, according to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, the country only records 2,200 cases of rape each year for a population of nearly 200 million.”, wrote the German media.

In the same tone the Nigerian daily This day, tell him about “scourge of rape”. He evokes two cases which led to the death of the victims. One of 13 years, raped by her uncle and her cousin, another of 17 years gang raped. Professor Joy Ngozi Ezeilo claims to have welcomed 641 patients in two years in the center he created. 183 victims were less than 10 years old! According to him, confinement during the coronavirus epidemic only made matters worse.

These crimes are largely undervalued due to a widespread culture of silence in the country. “The fear of not being believed or even of being blamed for having been raped creates a dangerous culture of silence that prevents victims from seeking justice.”, explains Osai Ojigho, director of Amnesty International in Nigeria. “So about 77% of rape cases go unreported”, adds Professor Ezeilo. “And those who do manage to report their cases have received no treatment or better services from the police and other actors, including health care providers.”.

However, things are changing, and reports for rape increase: 11,200, for the year 2020. An explosion that led the country to decree a “emergency state” on rape and violence. The authorities also promised to establish a register of sex offenders. If it is too early to measure the scope, the first consequence is that reports of rape continue to increase.

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But there is still a long way to go before public opinion finally recognizes rape as a crime. According to a survey cited by Reuters agency, 47% of Nigerians blame rape on indecent clothing, and less than half felt that offenders should be punished!

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