By Justina Auta
A Coalition of NGOs, “State of Emergency GBV Movement”, has decried the rise in cases of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) in Nigeria.
A statement issued by Chioma Agwuegbo on behalf of the group, said that Nigeria was experiencing a surge in such cases, especially at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Agwuegbo said that it was particularly worrisome because the menace of SGBV still prevailed several months after state governors declared an emergency on it.
“During the COVID-19 outbreak and the nationwide lockdown, Nigeria witnessed a disturbing surge in cases of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. Before the pandemic, violent and domestic attacks on women were common.
“However, the lockdown caused a significant spike in the incidents, resulting in an alarming increase in brutality and death.
“According to the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (2018), 30 per cent of girls and women between the ages of 15 and 49 were reported being subjected to sexual abuse.
“The Lagos State Domestic and Gender Violence Response Team reported a total of 3193 cases of gender-based violence between January and December 2020 alone.
“The statistics are similarly dire across the rest of the country,” she said.
Agwuegbo recalled that the coalition was inaugurated one year ago, following the death of 22-year-old Vera Omozuwa to advocate urgent actions to prevent the scourge of SGBV.
“Today, we are here to ask our leaders who promised to take action against this scourge what has changed?
“Too many women and young girls have lost their lives to these heinous acts perpetrated by criminals, with cases either totally ignored and justice delayed indefinitely.
“The murder of 22-year-old Vera Omozuwa, who was gang-raped and clubbed to death inside the Ikpoba Hill branch of Redeemed Christian Church of God in Benin City on May 2020, is still being litigated one year after.
“Around the same time, a 12-year-old minor was raped by a 57-year-old man and many others across the country,” she said.
She said that several top government officials had been found culpable in the act.
“It is imperative to highlight that the prosecution of Kogi State Commissioner for Water Resources, Abdulmumuni Danga, accused of assaulting Elizabeth Oyeniyi in March 2020 has stalled.
“Similarly, the accusations leveled against the Ogun State Commissioner for Environment, Abiodun Abdul-Balogun of attempting to rape a 16-year-old schoolgirl on December 31, 2020, remain uninvestigated.
“Sexual harassment and physical violence are only part of the horrors Nigerian women are continually subjected to, including harmful traditional practices, psychological abuse, and acts of socio-economic violence.
“According to the World Population Review, Nigeria is the seventh most dangerous country in the world for women to live in,” she said. (NAN)