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‘Stop Raping Women’: Defiant Against Police Assault

Protester shouting during Abuja Raid On Women Lagos

On Saturday, women and men gathered in Lagos and Abuja in an outcry against all-too-common abuja police raid on women. Protesters wore black t-shirts in solidarity with women who have been mistreated and on occasion raped by Policemen who should be protecting them.

The protests were in response to the ongoing crackdown against sex workers in Abuja. On Saturday April 27th, during a raid of nightclubs, officers of Utako police station in Abuja harassed and arrested suspected prostitutes. There were allegations that many were raped for bail using discarded pure water bags for condoms.

By April 30th outrage had spread on social media. Many called for the immediate arrest of implicated police officers using #AbujaRaidOnWomen. The protests began to take shape began on social media with announcements made using #SayHerNameNigeria

“We set out to protest the epidemic police violence against women in Nigeria and to create awareness about the specific issues women face in the hands of the police and law enforcement agents,” said a spokesperson for the team of organisers.

In Lagos the protest took place in front of the Nigerian Police Force, Lagos State Command Headquarter in Ikeja, along Oba Akinjobi Way.

In Abuja, the protest took place in Old Parade Ground, Area 10, Off Muhammmadu Buhari Way, Area 10, Garki.

The protests were organised by Stand to End Rape Initiative, Market March, As Equals Africa, We Will Not Be Silenced Nigeria and Through the Eyes of African Women.

During the demonstration, protesters chanted “stop raping women,” “rape is crime”, and many more phrases depicting the violent treatment of women’s bodies in Nigeria. Protesters expressed their disappointment that the very police that are meant to protect against harassers and rapists are the ones committing the crimes.

“We’re calling on the federal government, law makers, and the Nigerian police force to ensure that the rapists are prosecuted,” said a spokesperson for the team of organisers.

Abuja police commissioner Bala Ciroma appears to be engaging activists to help in investigations, but not to a level that satisfies the protesters.

“We need more commitment from them in sensitising the force and ensuring due process is followed during arrests.”

Abuja Raid On Women Abuja

Though many in Lagos were in high spirits through the end of the 2-hour demonstration, some did express concerns that there was not a larger turnout as the Abuja raid on Women affects every member of society.

“There were probably around 40 people here. If half of the people who were tweeting about it showed up today, it would have been much better, but i’m still encouraged,” said, photographer and protester in Lagos, Ifebusola Shotunde.

According to Brand24, a social media sentiment analysis tool, Between May 2nd and May 4th in Nigeria, when the marches were announced, #AbujaRaidOnWomen had a reach of 45,000 people and #SayHerNameNigeria had a reach of 430,000 people

“The police went inside and waited for us to leave. We could see them inside. They didn’t even come outside to engage us, “ Ifebusola added.

Turnout in Abuja, the city affected by the raids in question, was significantly higher.

Abuja Raid On Women Protests in Lagos

In the coming weeks, the organisers will be announcing more protests in Port Harcourt and at the Nigerian embassies in Accra and London.