Violence Against Women: Nigeria Flames On The Web

#JusticeForUwa, #JusticeForJennifer, #JusticeForTina: These hashtags have been shared tens of millions of times on Nigerian social networks in recent days, after complaints of rape or murder committed against young girls. While demonstrations are rare and often repressed by violence, young Nigerians have taken over the Internet to fight violence against women, but also police violence exacerbated during the health crisis. The protest movement is also winning over the country’s celebrities.

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Social networks, “a tool”

In northern Kaduna, 18-year-old Jennifer was raped in late April by five men after being trapped by her attackers on Facebook. In a video broadcast on May 10, we see those close to the young woman trying to make her regain consciousness, by running water over her face. “The families of the rapists will want to settle informally” by paying the opposing parties or the police, they complain. “They won’t even ask how the girl is doing, all they want is for the matter not to be made public. Twitter user Uncle Shemzz, well versed in the drama, started the movement: “This is the 18-year-old girl who was raped by a gang weeks ago in Narayi. The rapists have not been prosecuted and it appears that his parents are considering accepting payments. No amount can pay for this damage. It is OUR duty to ensure that there is #JusticeForJennifer, ”he added.

After the scandal caused by the tens of thousands of shares of this message accompanied by the hashtag #JusticeForJennifer, two of the alleged attackers were arrested and charged with “criminal conspiracy, involuntary intoxication and rape”, spokesman AFP said local police Mohammed Jalinge. “Three other suspects remain missing. “

Cascading business

Since last week, many other cases have broken out, horrifying Nigerian youth, committed, urban and connected. Young Tina E., 16, was shot dead by a police officer during an argument between the police and a bus driver who did not respect the hours of the curfew imposed in Lagos, the economic capital . The two police officers, Theophilus Otobo and Oguntoba Olamigoke, were arrested by the Lagos State police command for this act and are the subject of internal disciplinary proceedings, reports the local Nigerian press.

On the same day, Vera Uwaila Omozuma (aka Uwa), 22, a microbiology student in Edo state in the south of the country, was found dead in an evangelical church after being raped and beaten to death by her children. aggressors, according to his relatives. The #JusticeForUwa movement, launched in particular by a blogger from the Edo state, gathered hundreds of thousands of Internet users and the federal police promised that the culprits “should answer to justice”.

Governor Godwin Obaseki, who received the family of the victim Monday morning, “asked to be briefed minute by minute on the progress of the investigation,” said AFP spokesman Crusoe Osagie.

“Social networks are a tool to put institutions, the police against the wall or to reconnect the leaders of this country with what is happening on the ground,” says Segun Awosanya, head of a powerful organization of civil society monitoring police violence (Social Intervention Advocacy Foundation, SIAF).

“Once the light is shone on them, they can no longer pretend they do not know,” said the human rights defender to more than 500 followers on Twitter. “We all see what’s going on in the United States,” says the activist, nicknamed Sega the Awakener. “This is an opportunity to share our suffering and our dissatisfaction. “

In its strategy to combat sexual violence against women, Nigeria launched in December 2019 its first sex offender registry which contains the names of all those prosecuted for these acts since 2015. About fifteen reference structures for sexual assault (SARC) have been implemented in several states. Over there, victims of sexual or gender-based violence can access care and support for the courts. The objective is clearly to give voice and essential assistance to victims whose voices have long been silenced.

For Betty Abah, Executive Director of CEE HOPE, a Lagos-based non-profit girls’ rights organization, “What dissuades people in all parts of the world is that they know there will be sanctions and consequences for their actions, but in Nigeria they believe they can still get away with bribing the police. In the end, it is the victims who are worried about going to court because either justice will not be done, or it will be delayed, and in the end, the victim can become a target, “she analyzes at the microphone. from Saharareporters.

#We are tired

Beyond violence against women, the movement quickly turned into a general protest, carried by the country’s biggest celebrities, who are usually cautious when it comes to politics. “#We’re tired of these incessant killings, trucks overturning on the roads and killing innocent people (…), little girls who are raped, young boys killed by the police, tired of seeing unemployed graduates…”, wrote the diva of Afropop Tiwa Sawage to her 4 million Twitter followers.

Shortly after her, stars Don Jazzy (4.6 million subscribers), Mr Eazy (1.5 million), and Rema (850,000) followed suit by sharing the hashtag #WeAreTired and #JusticeForAll: a first in the ultra-powerful, and usually uninvolved, world of Nigerian music.

“The American police kills African Americans and the Nigerian police kills Nigerians,” said Wizkid, the most popular of them (6.5 million subscribers). “Trump and Buhari – the Nigerian president – are the same, except that one can use Twitter and the other cannot. “

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