COVID-19: Rape Cases Rise By 149%, Says ActionAid

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Michael Olugbode in Abuja

ActionAid Nigeria has lamented that rape cases in the country have increased by 149 per cent.

The increase in cases was attributed to the lockdowns as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A statement issued at the weekend by the Board of Trustees (BoT) of ActionAid Nigeria, after a virtual meeting to review of the state of the nation last Saturday, stated that: “Since the COVID-19 lockdown, a wave of rape and other forms of Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) have increased. Since the commencement of lockdowns, reported cases of gender-based violence have substantially risen with a monthly increase of 149 percent in 23 out of the 36 states in Nigeria, where we could obtain data on SGBV.”

It lamented that: “Despite this, till date, only 17 out of 36 states and the FCT have passed the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act in Nigeria.”

The organisation also decried that the recent hike in electricity was unfortunate and ill-timed.

The statement read: “The hike in electricity tariffs by almost 100 percent as well as the fuel price increase, coming amid the COVID-19 pandemic, is not only ill-timed, but it is also counterproductive. The privatisation of the electricity sub-sector seven years down the line has not yielded the anticipated positive results.

“This is because through the privatisation process, the entire sector was sold at about N400 billion. We are also surprised that the government within the last four years injected N1.5 trillion over and above the amount that accrued from this important asset, and Nigerians are still being made to pay more.”

It, however, commended the federal government over it attempts to encourage local farmers and food producers over imports, but decried the twin crises of flooding and food shortages, which is “threatening to push Nigeria into a devastating food crisis.”

ActionAid Nigeria, however, urged the government to provide definite timelines for government’s response to youths’ demands.

The group added that: “Sexual gender-based violence response services should be a basic and accessible service in every state of Nigeria. The minimum standards for prevention and response to SGBV in emergencies should be institutionalised. The foundational standards will help states engage communities better, support national systems, and collect data for effective utilisation.”