25 October 2013

Nigeria: Niger Delta, Rape Capital of Nigeria - Survey

One in ten women surveyed in Niger Delta was either raped or survived a rape attempt last year in the Niger Delta.

More women were raped in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria than any other part of the country last year, a recent crime survey published by CLEEN Foundation has said.

The survey, National Crime Victimization and Safety survey, said that one in every 10 women were either raped or victims of attempted rape in the region last year.

The Niger Delta region is Nigeria's crude oil production hub and is recovering from militancy that plagued the region in the years leading up to 2010 when the government declared amnesty for armed youths in the region.

The incidence of rape in the region was higher than the national average by 100 per cent. The survey showed that the national average of victims was five per cent - one in every 20 women surveyed.

The survey also shows that the national incidence of rape almost doubled from three per cent in 2011 to five per cent in 2013.

"The incidence of rape has been on the increase from 3 per cent in 2011 to 5 percent 2013 within its geopolitical zones," the report said

With 10 per cent incident of rape or attempted rape, the South South region could be described as the rape capital of Nigeria followed by the North East - 6 per cent. The South West region and North West region had rape incidence rate of one in every 25 women - four percent each.

The North Central followed with three per cent - one in every 33 women polled. The South East had the lowest incidence rate of one in every 100 women.

Most of the victims - 36 per cent - told CLEEN Foundation they were raped near their homes. Another 19 per cent said they were attacked "at their homes" while 13 per cent said they were attacked in schools or workplace.

"Respondent was further asked how widespread the incidence of rape was. 10 per cent believed it was very widespread, 33 per cent said it happened occasionally, 48 per cent believe it was non existence while nine per cent said they do not know ," the report said.

Under Reported

Women rights campaigners believe that the rising incident of rape is buoyed by increased reporting of cases but that the true rate of rape is far higher than the survey reports.

"Whatever is reported is half the actual occurrence," Dorothy Njemanze, a Nollywood star who took up fighting the cause of victimized women after she was harassed by environmental officials in Abuja, said.

She argued that the incidence could have been buoyed by a mix of Nigeria's value system, judicial system and beliefs.

"If offenders are not punished, it will embolden more offenders," she said.

Last year, a video of four men, believed to be students of Abia State University, raping a young woman went viral online, but the police could not take it any further. The victim also refused to own up.

Ms. Njemanze believes that the judicial system in Nigeria is skewed to favour offenders and lack the ability to serve justice to victims and discourage offenders.

A Lagos based feminist, Ogechi Ekeanyanwu, advocated for a fast trial for rapists as a deterrent. She said rapists must be punished and the insistence of evidence of rape by law enforcers should be dropped.

"If a rape victim reports, she must be treated with dignity... . the situation were rape victims are blamed for whatever reason must be stopped and rapists must be punished expediently".

"Stricter laws should be put in place to discourage rape in Nigeria," Ms. Ekeanyanwu said.

She argued that the misogyny, the patriarchal system, and the objectification of women have contributed to the rise in rape incidents in Nigeria.

"When women are seen as Objects to be subdued, an extreme result is the spate of rape such as we see now."

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