Executive Director, Women Aid Collective (WACOL), a non-governmental orgsnisation, Joy Ezeilo, a professor, has condemned increased cases of violence against women and girls in the society since the lockdown due to Covid-19.
Speaking during a zoom briefing recently, Prof. Ezeilo noted that cases of rape, defilement and other forms of domestic violence have continued unabated.
“We live in strange times; to begin with, the coronavirus that knows no border struck the world unannounced, killing over five million people. Before Covid-19, it has been acknowledged that violence against women and girls is one of the most surreptitious forms of violation of their human rights.
“Sexual violence and other forms of torture against women and girls have also been affirmed to be a crime against humanity, she said.
She said that since the outbreak of Covid-19, there has been spike in violence against women and girls and sexual gender-based violence when in reality one expected a decrease because of the disruptions caused by the pandemic; fear and anxiety about one’s survival and measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus like lockdowns and social distancing.
“However, on the contrary the world has witnessed a steady rise and Nigeria is no different. It has been tales of woes for women and girls caught up in the web of the pervasive violence in public and private spaces, especially during this Covid-19 pandemic,” she added.
She regretted that the government and other stakeholders have not done enough to halt the trend of increasing gender-based violence.
“The truth is that there is low accountability to violence perpetrated against the female gender. Today, it is Uwa Omozuwa (Benin), yesterday it was Tina Ezekwe (Lagos), a year before it was Ochanya (Benue) and unaccountable others.
“In 2014, it was evidence- that was raped and murdered in Enugu and she became a body of growing evidence of the heinous crime of rape and sexual assault against womanhood.
“The truth is that there is no safe space for women and girls anymore. It is now an epidemic within a pandemic of Covid-19,” she said.
According to her, the organisation has received a total of 153 cases in the past two months.
These cases, she explained were received and documented through their online platform services.
Enumerating the nature of complaints received by her organisation, she said they include: spousal battery, verbal abuse, abduction, rape, sexual assault, defilement, abandonment, forceful ejection, torture, deprivation of livelihood, discrimination, custody and welfare of children, malicious damage to property and dispossession of widow’s property.
Others, she said, were discrimination, disinheritance of widows and girl child as well as harmful/obnoxious traditional practices.