Raped by the police

Amnesty International reports that Nigeria has failed to prosecute rapes by police and soldiers.


Tracy Clark-Flory
November 29, 2006 1:02AM (UTC)

Nigeria may be seven years out of a military dictatorship, but horrific abuses are still being committed by police and soldiers, according to Amnesty International. The group found cases of "soldiers raping women in front of their husbands and children, detainees being sodomized with broken bottles, and toddlers assaulted after their parents had been arrested," according to the Associated Press. Topping off the moral decay are police officers who intimidate rape victims and discourage reporting.

"If you are a woman or a girl in Nigeria who has suffered the terrible experience of being raped, your suffering is likely to be met with intimidation by the police, indifference from the state and the knowledge that the perpetrator is unlikely to ever face justice,'' Kolawole Olaniyan, Africa director at Amnesty International, told the Associated Press.

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Indeed, despite rape having become "endemic" among Nigerian security forces, no convictions have been dealt to soldiers and only a few to police officers, according to Amnesty. Of course, police intimidation isn't the only factor stifling reports of rape; the stigma of rape is very real and victims fear rejection by their families and communities. Also, in the Muslim north, sharia law deters reporting by allowing for the punishment of victims or families who report a rape if they cannot produce four male witnesses. The mother and father of one such victim received 80 lashes each.

Unbelievably, the best song and dance a police spokesperson could come up with was to point to a government workshop on sexual violence held today to address the problem. Obviously there's a serious disconnect here; a workshop doesn't even approach the aggressive response that Amnesty is calling for or that such widespread corruption obviously warrants.


Tracy Clark-Flory

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