According to the United Nations, one in three women are victims of sexual violence. This heinous statistic affects all nations worldwide, but Nigeria is ranked in the top ten countries with the highest rape crime in the world. Several campaigns have launched such as Stand To End Rape and Stop Sexual Violence but we need to grasp a clearer understanding on the intensity of the matter. Here are ten reasons why sexual violence is one of Nigeria’s most serious social problems:
Yes, you read that right! 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 is not acting as it should, which is one of the main reasons in recent times for this drastic fact.
- BY LAW, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BEAT YOUR WIFE IN NIGERIA AS LONG AS IT DOES NOT CAUSE ANY GRIEVOUS BODILY HARM
Yes, you read that right too. It is law in Nigeria to have the right to beat your wife as long as it does not harm her body. It is no secret that Nigeria is a highly patriarchal society that discriminates against women but the misogyny that is bred within society oppresses women and views women as second class citizens. Cultural bias is a huge reason for the approval of this law as many who follow strong traditions and rather wayward religious views tend to view women as lesser beings. Nigeria is definitely not one of the safest countries for women and it is time for us to speak up against the oppression of women and work towards achieving gender equality for all.
Sexual violence is one of the main contributing factors to the rapid spread of HIV and other STDs in Nigeria. The fact that over 65% of the women who were a part of the research project had contracted HIV through rape shows the need for immediate action and enforcement of laws to end the issue. Furthermore, women who have been victims of sexual violence are 1.5 times more likely to contract HIV. HIV is a highly stigmatised disease in Nigeria and therefore the psychological effect on HIV positive citizens needs to be treated as importantly as the physical effect, which leads me on to the next point.
- THERE ARE UNDER 200 QUALIFIED PSYCHOLOGISTS ACROSS NIGERIA
With the highest population in Africa and the largest black population in the world, Nigeria has hardly any psychologists. This is a huge detrimental factor for victims of sexual violence as psychological care is not taken seriously enough. It is seen as the norm in Nigeria to dismiss the notion of mental health and refer to religion and tradition to explain mental illnesses. Victims of sexual violence therefore often do not have anyone to speak to about their experience or to help them get through the experience, which creates a ripple effect of silent victims and liberated perpetrators. We need to encourage psychology across our university campuses and secondary schools in order to produce more psychologists nationwide. The fact that Nigeria has under 200 qualified psychologists is a straining fact that deserves more attention.
- MALE RAPE IS HIGHLY STIGMATIZED AND CONTINUOUSLY IGNORED
A large amount of people tend to dismiss the fact that men get raped to. Nigerian men are serious victims of rape but due to the country’s patriarchal society, male rape is a highly stigmatised issue. This has caused a lot of men to stay silent about their experiences because they are made to believe that it takes away from their “manhood”. We need to support Nigerian men and vice versa and focus on the effects of rape on men in Nigeria’s society today.
This month Our Vision Nigeria is launching a year long sexual violence campaign alongside other sexual and domestic violence campaigns such as R.A.W and Stand To End Rape. Our Vision Nigeria (OVNG) is a Nigerian youth organisation, empowering Nigerian youths to maximise national potential. The organisation was founded in April 2015, aiming to improve several issues that Nigerian youths face today ranging from a poor social orientation to youth unemployment.
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 of psychological care and there will be an active social media campaign running based around the hashtag #NoMeansNo. Feel free to join in with the campaign and fuel the conversation with OVNG! Together, we can reduce the prevalence of sexual violence as a necessity for sustainable human development.