All 36 of Nigeria’s governors resolved to declare a state of emergency over rape and other gender-based violence against women and children in the country.
The decision was made after a meeting among the governors earlier this week.
As a part of their initiative, the governors aim to impose tougher federal laws punishing rape and violence against women and children, and to set up sex offender registers in all of the states.
The emergency declaration comes after a buildup of the country’s concerns about gender-based violence.
Within the span of a few days, from May 28 to June 1, two Nigerian students were raped and killed in separate incidents. The women were Vera Uwaila Omosuwa, 22, and Barakat Bello, 18.
Women’s rights activists protested nationwide and the hashtag #WeAreTired circulated on social media.
In November 2019, Nigerian authorities launched the first nationwide register of sex offenders, but the recent state of emergency declaration and recent protests signal that the country seeks to do more to combat gender-based violence.
There has been a global increase in gender-based violence since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
According to the United Nations, Argentina, Canada, China, France, Germany, Spain, Britain and the United States, among other countries, have observed a higher number of domestic violence cases.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Nigeria already had reported an alarming prevalence of sexual violence.
In Kaduna, Nigeria, the U.N. children’s fund has said, one in four boys and one in 10 girls under age 18 have been victims of sexual violence.
Barrister Zainab Aminu Garba, the chairperson of the International Federation of Women Lawyers in Kaduna, described rape as an “epidemic” in northwestern Nigeria.
Since the pandemic, Nigeria has seen a threefold increase in the number of calls to domestic and sexual violence hot lines.