Schools and Hospitals will have access to a publicly accessible list to conduct background checks
For the first time in Nigeria, a sex offenders register has been created, this will go a long way in arresting the steadily rising cases of sexual offences across the country.
The online registry which will be accessible to the public will have a record of sexual offenders from 2015. This would help the police authorities and other civic bodies to conduct background checks and identify repeat offenders.
A Nigerian non – government organisation that supports victims of sexual violence Stand To End Rape supports the move, its director Oluwaseun Osowobi said “If a case is reported anywhere in the country, the case is now on the register. It means that offenders have nowhere to hide.”
Online updates will be provided to the register by Nigeria’s National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), 15 non-government organisation and the British Council.
NAPTIP executive secretary Beatrice Jedy-Agba said “This is the first of its kind in Nigeria”, noting that “It enables bodies such as schools and hospitals to conduct background checks and it will deter sex offenders because they will know their names will be published, affecting their employment and role in society.”
Getting data on sexual offences in Nigeria is not as easy as it may sound. Offences are sometimes not reported because of the stigmatisation that goes along with it. One in four girls in Nigeria have been subjected to some sort of sexual violence and have hardly received any form of support.
According to the police in Nigeria’s commercial city Lagos, children are the most frequently assaulted by relatives or family friends known to them.
Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa have seen a steady rise in cases of sexual crimes in recent years according to the police and support groups.
Many of the victims feel the justice system has failed them as the number of cases rises, they site stigmatisation by authorities, exposure to their alleged abusers, and a very low rate of successful prosecution.
The news system is aimed at strengthening cases during prosecution, as sexual referral centres run by NGOs will be able to feed in data they collected during incidents into the register.
Osowobi went on to say that “We have cases where victims are being questioned in front of the perpetrators or in open spaces and criticised by officers for not remembering details like the road where the rape occurred.”
Majority of sexual cases are not prosecuted in Nigeria according to Stand To End Rape, which supports people who report sexual abuses and provide counselling to victims.
“Cases of sexual abuse are not prosecuted for flimsy reasons,” Osowobi said. “How police collect data is unprofessional and archaic. Police regularly misplace case-files or evidence. Eventually, victims become exhausted by the system and give up.”
Culled from TheGuardian