The recent news reports of violent rapes and murder of women in Nigeria underscores the challenges faced by many women where few cases of physical and sexual acts of violence are reported to the police, and where even much fewer cases lead to a criminal conviction.
According to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, in 2017 there were 2,279 reported cases of rape and sexual assault across all 35 states and the Federal Capital Territory Abuja, with Anambra failing to report a single case. None of those cases led to a criminal conviction.
This is despite the fact that in 2015, Nigeria passed the comprehensive Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act 2015, which aims to eliminate all forms of violence in both the private and public spheres and includes the right to assistance for victims of violence. In addition, Nigeria is a signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Nonetheless, despite legislation and ongoing efforts to protect women and vulnerable populations against violence, much remains to be done in protecting victims and prosecuting perpetrators.
Violence against women also seems to be on the increase according to the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey which surveyed women between the ages of 15 and 50. In 2018, almost one in three women, 31%, said they had experienced physical violence in the year leading up to the survey, up from 27.8% in 2013. Nearly one in ten women, 9.1%, also said they had experienced sexual violence in 2018, up from 7.4% in 2013.
In 2018, Taraba top the list when nearly 7 in 10 women reported having being victims of physical violence in the preceding the 2018 survey. Six other states, Edo, Gombe, Rivers, Niger, Ebonyi and Ogun had more than half of the women reporting that they had experienced physical violence.
While the northern states of Yobe, Kebbi, Sokoto, Katsina, Zamfara, Kano and Jigawa had the lowest indicated cases of physical violence of 10% or less.
Niger state recorded the steepest rise in the number of women who had experienced physical violence by 47.1 point increase, and Enugu reporting the steepest fall with -36.6% percentage change. Just 14 of the 36 states states reported a fall in the percentage of women experiencing physical violence.
In 2018, nearly half of the women in Gombe they had experienced sexual violence in the preceding year, topping the list for the the highest rate. It was also responsible for the highest change in the rate of women reporting sexual violence by 30.5% from 14.4% in 2013.
Only 4 states reported double digit decreases from the previous survey held in 2013 - Benue (-13.8%), Taraba (-15.6%), Cross River (-16.8%) and Adamawa (-19.6%).