Nigeria: Gender Matters Across Nigeria (March 2024 Edition)


SGBV cases are on the rise in many parts of Nigeria including Kano, Katsina and Abuja.

Dear Reader,

Nine years after Nigeria put in place its most comprehensive law yet to address Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), the menace continues in many parts of the country. The federal law, the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act, has been domesticated in 35 of Nigeria's 36 states. The only state where it is yet to be domesticated is Kano, officially Nigeria's most populous state.

Unfortunately, the absence of such a law in Kano, the commercial capital of Northern Nigeria, has contributed to the rise in SGBV cases in the state. Almost 200 cases were reported in the state in the last four months, while over 4,000 cases were recorded in the last five years. One of the Kano victims is Hureira (not real name), a four-year-old who was raped by a provision shop owner on her street. Hureira's mother narrated her ordeal to PREMIUM TIMES and she, other victims' families, and experts say the absence of such a VAPP law makes it difficult to get justice. Unfortunately, the Kano State Government says it is not in a rush to put the law in place.

Like Kano, Katsina was reluctant to domesticate the law - it only did so last December. Still worried about the rise in SGBV cases, Katsina now wants to create a special court to try perpetrators.

But even in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, where the VAPP Act has been in place since 2015, officials say SGBV cases are still on the rise. Over 2,000 cases were recorded in the last four months, an official said. The official, however, suggests that it was not a case of an increase in SGBV incidents, but of more people having the confidence to report SGBV.

In Lagos, Nigeria's commercial capital, the VAPP Act is not the problem - Lagos had its equivalent of VAPP even before the federal law was put in place. However, the state is grappling with a directive that prevents women's right to safe abortion. In June 2022, Lagos put in place a directive that allows for safe abortion - abortion is illegal in most parts of Nigeria, a largely conservative society. However, a week later, the Lagos government rescinded the directive. This means that in Lagos, arguably Nigeria's most liberal city, women and girls, including rape victims, cannot legally have an abortion.

Gender advocates in Lagos have now called on the state government to reinstate the directive, called the "Lagos State Guidelines on Safe Termination of Pregnancy for Legal Indications."

Like Kano, Katsina was reluctant to domesticate the law - it only did so last December. Still worried about the rise in SGBV cases, Katsina now wants to create a special court to try perpetrators.

"We understand that certain religious, cultural, and philosophical convictions oppose the document developed over four years," activist Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi said. She added that the denial of safe abortion to survivors of rape not only violates their right to health and privacy but also may infringe upon the prohibition of ill-treatment.

Mrs Akiyode-Afolabi has now launched an online petition, "Save Women from Dying in Nigeria", which, as of 26 February, has garnered about 300 signatures.

Also in February, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said the treatment of complications arising from Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) cost global health systems $1.4 billion a year. FGM has been reduced in Nigeria, but the practice still occurs in some parts of the country and many survivors, last year, narrated their experiences to PREMIUM TIMES.

These and other gender stories can be found on the Gender Page of the PREMIUM TIMES website.

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