Nigerian NGO demands state of emergency over incessant rape

By Rukayat Akanbi

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A non-governmental organisation in Nigeria, Attal Sisters Helping Hands, (ASHH) Foundation has on Friday urged the state and Federal Governments to declare state of emergency against rape.

ASHH Foundation which is in the North Eastern part of the country has also said that the Covid-19 pandemic has contributed to the upsurge in the reported rape cases by 50 per cent in Bauchi.

The Executive Director, ASHH Foundation, Comfort Attal who led a combined rally of persons with disabilities, vulnerable and concerned citizens to the Ministry of Justice has expressed their displeasure against rape in a protest on Friday. ASHH Foundation is supported by ActionAid and Canada to focus on women, girls and the vulnerable right in the society.

According to the Executive Director, Comfort Attal while appealing to the Commissioner for Justice Barr. Yakubu Bello Kirfi said she was devastated at the escalating reports of violence against women and girls in the State and Nigeria at large.

She said: “Since the beginning of Covid-19 pandemic alone, the number of calls has increased on our hotlines services. It has been as high as 50 per cent increase in Bauchi state while in some states, service providers couldn’t assist victims because they were trapped at home with their abusers because of lack of access to phones or transportation.

“I am urging you to speak out on this on the floor of the state House of Assembly and move a motion to declare a state of emergency on Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in Bauchi State and Nigeria.”The Covenner also added that in the past one week alone, a 16-year old girl was abducted and ganged rape in Bauchi State. “Uwa was raped and killed in a church in Benin, Tina was shot dead in Lagos, a 13-year-old girl was raped by 11 men in Jigawa, another one was raped and stabbed to death and those are only a few reported in the news. We need justice, we need a state of emergency declared today,” she said.

“In Nigeria, one in four girls will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18. Before the Covid-19 crisis, the national data in 2018 showed an increase in the percentage of women who have experienced physical violence since age 18 from 11per cent in 2013 to 14 per cent in 2018. And the increased number of cases are due to victim-blaming, lack of access to adequate medical services and the lack of access to justice. We need change now.”

While responding, the Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General, Bauchi State, Barr Yakubu Bello Kirfi assured the groups that the perpetrators would not go unpunished. He charged the NGOs to always copy the ministry of any reported case of rape in the society. Bello informed that Conference of Attorneys General had a virtual meeting where issue of rape and violence against women was discussed on how to address the menace.

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