According to the United Nations, one in three women are victims of sexual violence. Nigeria ranks in the top ten countries with the highest rape crime in the world.
Here are the five reasons why:
- Only eighteen (18) individuals have ever been convicted of rape in Nigeria since the country gained it’s independence
In a country with a population of nearly 180 million citizens, only eighteen have been convicted of rape. The fact that Nigeria’s laws against sexual violence have not been implemented effectively in to society is a security risk to women and men who have been victims and are potential victims of rape. The 2013 Sexual Offences Bill hasn’t been as effective as one would hope.
- By law, you have the right to beat you wife in Nigeria as long as it doesn’t cause any grievous bodily harm
It is law in Nigeria to have the right to beat your wife as long as it does not harm her body. This law is proof that Nigeria is a highly patriarchal society that discriminates against women and the misogyny that is bred within society oppresses women and classifies women as second class citizens.
Cultural bias is one of the main reasons for the approval of this law since many people who follow age old traditions or religious practices tend to view women as lesser beings.
A push for gender equality can help create a much safer environment for Nigerian women and this can only be achieved by people coming together to speak up against what many considers to be a form of oppression.
- 429 of 652 women in Lagos with HIV are sexual violence victims
Sexual violence is one of the main contributing factors to the rapid spread of HIV and other STDs in Nigeria. A study on domestic violence in Nigeria shows that over 65% of women who took part in the research had contracted HIV through rape. This shows an immediate need for stricter laws and the enforcement of these laws.
A 2013 analysis by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that “women who had been physically or sexually abused were 1.5 times more likely to have a sexually transmitted infection and, in some regions, HIV, compared to women who had not experienced partner violence.”
- The lack of access to mental health facilities
With the largest population in Africa, Nigeria is in need of more mental health professionals. In a 2006 WHO report on the mental health system in Nigeria, the organization found:
There is considerable neglect of mental health issues in the country. The existing Mental Health Policy document in Nigeria was formulated in 1991.It was the first policy addressing mental health issues and its components include advocacy, promotion, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation. Since its formulation, no revision has taken place and no formal assessment of how much it has been implemented has been conducted. Though a list of essential medicines exists, they are not always available at the health centers. No desk exists in the ministries at any level for mental health issues and only four per cent of government expenditures on health is earmarked for mental health.
The lack of access to mental health facilities makes it nearly impossible for victims of sexual violence to get help. In Nigeria, its common for people to dismiss mental health as a curable disease. This in turn prevents victims of sexual violence from seeking professional help which creates a large number of silent victims and perpetrators go unpunished.
- Male rape is stigmatized and ignored
The National Alliance to End Sexual Violence reports that “about 14% of reported rapes involve men or boys, and that 1 in 6 reported sexual assaults is against a boy and 1 in 25 reported sexual assaults is against a man .”
Often times, men and boys who fall victims of sexual violence have a difficult time coming forward because of the stigma placed on males & sexual violence. A push for gender equality also means showing equal support to victims of both genders.
Our Vision Nigeria (OVNG) will be launching this month a year long sexual violence campaign alongside R.A.W and Stand To End Rape. The campaign will focus on the prevalence of sexual violence across university campuses in Nigeria, aiming to reduce the heinous statistics that currently exist. The organisation will be providing rape alarms to three university campuses across Nigeria: the University of Ibadan, University of Lagos and Obafemi Awolowo University.
Furthermore, OVNG will be holding a fundraising concert in December 2017 to raise money for victims who need mental health assistance, as well as an active social media campaign running based around the hashtag #NoMeansNo.
Together, we can reduce the prevalence of sexual violence.