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UNODC provides tools to Nigeria to fight rape and sexual violence

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During 16 Days of Activism, UNODC provides resource tools to Nigeria to fight and prosecute rape and other sexual violence offences

Abuja (Nigeria), 2 December 2021 – The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and further reduced access to justice for survivors. The reduction of contact with the police and justice services, as well as lockdown policies made some victims live with their abusers 24/7 without any privacy or means to access police stations.

Survivors often face significant obstacles due to gaps in criminal law and procedure, gender stereotypes, victim-blaming and inadequate responses of criminal justice institutions and professionals. Many of them require urgent medical intervention, targeted and tailored psycho-social support, economic empowerment, social protection as well as access to gender and trauma-sensitive legal assistance to help them rebuild their lives. 

Data from Federal and State Ministries for Women Affairs in Nigeria, on incidents of SGBV across 23 States indicate that 781 incidents were reported in the first two weeks of April 2020, showing a dramatic increase of 149% in the number of SGBV cases.

While addressing SGBV has been a priority for the Nigerian government with the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria declaring a state of emergency on the rising number of GBV cases in July 2020. Still, the criminal justice response remains weak, with few reported cases ending up in successful convictions.

In response to this, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice established an Inter-Ministerial Management Committee on SGBV and a new Special SGBV Prosecution Team to give the GBV cases the required attention.

On 25 November 2021, to commemorate the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, UNODC Country Representative, Oliver Stolpe supplied key UNODC resource tools and publications on effective criminal justice responses to the SGBV Prosecution Hub, which was received by the Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Mohammed Umar Etsu, on behalf of AG-Fed and Minister of Justice.

These included copies of the Handbook on Effective Prosecution Responses to Violence against Women and Girls, Handbook for the judiciary on effective criminal justice response to gender-based violence against women and girls, Strengthening Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Responses to violence against women and Essential services package for women and girls subject to violence.

These tools will strengthen the capacity of criminal justice actors and other essential service providers to effectively prevent and respond to GBVAWG by enhancing gender-responsive investigations, prosecutions and adjudication of SGBV offences and enhancing multi-sectoral responses and coordination between law enforcement, criminal justice practitioners and essential services providers and provide tailored support for victims of SGBV.

UNODC is supporting Nigeria in the ongoing review of legislation on rape and sexual offences and in improving capacities related to data collection, research and analysis on the prevalence of GBV, which is fundamental for monitoring the efficacy of rape legislation and improving measures to address sexual violence and strengthening existing legal and policy frameworks relevant to the prevention and prosecution of GBVAWG, including in connection with terrorism, organized crime, trafficking-in-Persons (TiP) and conflict-related sexual violence, to ensure sanctions for offences of rape are effective, proportionate, dissuasive and commensurate with the gravity of the crime committed.

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