ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigerian Minister of Women Affairs Pauline Tallen called on law enforcement to expedite rape cases as they spiked during lockdowns aimed at containing the spread of the new coronavirus.
Her call followed protests (here) earlier this week over sexual violence in West Africa’s most populous nation and a series of high-profile rapes.
Tallen said rapes had reached an “alarming rate” three times the typical level as women and children were locked down with their abusers. Every state in Nigeria was affected, she said.
“We are calling for legal intervention,” she said. “From details that we have, there are hundred of cases that are within our courts that have not been addressed and out of each one case, be sure that there are 10 that have not been reported.”
She also called on judges and the police to treat reported rapes with gravity.
Earlier this week, Nigeria’s most senior policeman ordered the immediate deployment of additional investigators to specialist gender violence desks.
Tallen raised the issue at Wednesday’s cabinet meeting and said that President Muhammadu Buhari supported urgent action.
“Government will take decisive action at the highest level to protect women and children in this country,” she said.
Reporting By Felix Onuah, writing by Libby George; editing by Grant McCool