Tag Archives: GBV



Isabella cries out loud as she saw her nude pictures and other personal information posted on social media by her ex-husband. Her friend Aurora rushed into the room with towel on her chest to inquire on what the situation is, Isabella looked at her with a sad face and said, you can’t believe what I saw on social media, Isabella gave her the phone and she saw the nude pictures and other personal information the Ex-husband posted, OMG! She screamed. How can your ex-husband be so cruel?

According to Global Fund for Women, Online violence against women is an overt expression of the gender discrimination and inequality that exists offline. In 2015, the UN Broadband Commission warned that cyber VAWG had become “a global problem with serious implications for societies and economies around the world.” It noted that 73% of women and girls had encountered some form of online violence; that women were 27 times more likely to be abused online than men; that 61% of online harassers were male; and that women aged between 18 and 24 were at particular risk.

Online violence against women has become a common experience especially for lesbians, bisexual or trans women or any combination, women in politics, journalism and women with disabilities. This creates an environment with the intention of raising alarm, body shaming, intimidating or humiliating and pushing women/girls offline. This is usually directed towards those who are trying to amplify their voices on the issues faced by women/girls online. Online abuse against women/girls is also increasingly being used as a tactic to publicly use power over women, thereby preventing them from expressing themselves freely, which is a fundamental right of everyone regardless of gender identification and/or orientation. Sometimes, Men are also harassed online, but women are the target, online harassment quickly descends into sexualized hate or threats.

The greatest impact on women and girls when they experience violence online is self-restriction, and that is what the abusers want. Most times only physical violence is taken seriously, but as it stands online violence is equally harmful. As it is the case with most women, they turn to avoid social media platforms after being harassed. Online violence is a public health issue and the effects are very harmful; it results in physical, sexual, psychological or economic harm, and erodes self-esteem.

Internet access is growing across all continents. With the advent of COVID-19 that has impacted the way of lives of the people, every attention has tilted more to internet usage than ever before and offline violence has extended to online, which makes it easier for people to commit violence without consequences. Women are the main targets of online violence, especially women with voices, like female journalists and politicians. Online harassment can include bullying, trolling, cyber stalking, defamation and hate speech, public shaming, and identity theft and hacking amongst other offences.

Online protection is an urgent priority every single day, billions of people around the world use social media to connect, report abuses that happened offline, learn and share as well as for everyday communications. Social media platforms can help give a voice to the voiceless by raising the profile of some of the most marginalized women and girls in the society.

Many women/girls around the world are experiencing attacks on their websites and social media pages, a host of attackers have succeeded in hacking into and gaining control over women’s and activists’ accounts just to cause alarm, intimidate and harass them and also use their personal images and details to scam their followers.

Online violence against women and girls is real with attendant effects and sometimes it moves from online to offline. Women/girls are learning to expect and accept abuse as a normal part of their daily life experience. Most women/girls have reduced the usage of social media owing to abuse and harassment, while those who are still active on these platforms are forced to change how they express themselves to avoid harassment, which has driven most of them to depression. 

Girls around the world have written an open letter to Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter, the world’s most influential social media platforms, to create ways to report abuses and harassment in order to be free and secure when online.

COVID-19 has move more of our lives online, it’s vital that social media space is safe for women and girls.

Isabella’s ex-husband was arrested and detained by the police officers for violating his ex-wife’s right to privacy.


  • Government should create effective and accessible reporting mechanisms that target gender-based violence online
  • Government should hold perpetrators of rights violations to accountable
  • Social media platforms should also create a safe reporting mechanism that will be safe for women and girls.




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By Jerome Uneje

Bang! Bang!! Bang!!! Bot (not real name) keeps hitting on the door as he hollers her name in the still of the night. Kangyang, (not real name) 28, and a Mother of two slowly sits up in her hard, and narrow wooden bed. She picks up her small handset to check the time. The broken screen shows 1: 17 am. Oh no… not again. She hisses, gets up and opens the door for her husband. He staggers in and begins his routine of abuse and insults in slurred speech occasioned by too much alcohol. She is quiet and takes on the abuses with a dignified silence. He pushes away his food and demands sex. This time, Kangyang refuses. She has been busy on the farm all day and is too tired for sex and asks for a little more time to rest. Bot will have none of that. She stands her ground. A scuffle ensues. Bot grabs Kangyang by the throat and begins to shake her violently. She struggles, but her blocked wind pipe cannot take in enough oxygen to sustain her strength. She gasps and gasps while Bot tightens his grip. She finally weakens and slumps, dead.

Kangyang’s story is an everyday narrative in Nigeria. Violence against Women is as common place as any other vice. The United Nations Fund for Population Agency (UNFPA) reported in 2016 that Gender Based Violence, especially against women has a prevalence rate of over 30% across the country. This translates into 1 out of every 10 Women in Nigeria as a victim of violence in one form or more. The same report has it that over 25% of Nigerian women are circumcised.

There has been an unprecedented rise in violence against women in spite of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition Act) 2015. In Plateau State for instance, reports indicate that Violence against women is on the rise. Reports from the Media and other stakeholders including the Civil Society in Plateau State has it that in the last one year, there have been up to 430 reported cases of violations against Women in the State. Of these figures, 123 are rape cases of which 96 or 80% involve minors. There are over 21 cases of murder and many more.

Currently, efforts are being made by State and Non-State Actors in Plateau state to curb this fast rising menace to the womenfolk. The Civil Society has formed an observatory platform that monitors and documents these violations. According to our sources, the Observatory Platform has over 23 Civil Society and other key stakeholders. It is this platform that has recorded the over 430 cases of violations in Plateau State over the period of 1 year alone.

Besides the efforts Civil Society, the Plateau State House of Assembly, worried by the rising cases of violations against women, has initiated an Executive bill which seeks to penalize perpatrators of violence against women. The proposed bill seeks to strengthen the old Northern Nigeria Penal Code under which offenders are currently charged and tried. The Northern Nigeria Penal Code is archaic and does not speak to current realities on ground. The proposed bill is yet to be passed and it’s still in the formative stages in the Plateau State House of Assembly.

Lawyers Alert commends the efforts of both the State and Non-State Actors in Plateau State in tackling the issue of violence against Women. Gender Based Violence (GBV) is a menace that should concern every member of the society, regardless of status.

Given the above therefore, Lawyers Alert as a Human Rights Organization and a staunch advocate of Gender Equality and Women Empowerment, wishes to make the following suggestions to both the Civil Society and Government Institutions in Plateau State and Nigeria as a whole, in their efforts to curb the violations against Women and other vulnerable groups.

Regarding the efforts of the Civil Society, Lawyers Alert suggests that;

  • Recorded violations should not be stopped at the documentation stages alone but such cases should be taken to Court where the perpetrators will be adequately punished and the victims compensated
  • Monitored and documented violations should be analysed by the Civil Society in order to pattern out a trend in the violations. This will help in directing advocacy courses and programs.
  • There should be a pool of Human Rights Lawyers set to offer pro bono services to the victims of these violations especially for the poor and vulnerable.
  • Civil Society should push for the passage and implementation of laws and policies that protect and empower Women including international, regional and local instruments.

To Government Institutions:

  • They should endeavour to pass laws and policies that protect and empower Women
  • Put in place structures and procedures to assure the full implementation of passed and domesticated laws in their States.
  • Put in place structures and platforms that empower Women in economic and social terms through the formulation of laws, policies and special interventions like Women Skill acquisition programs amongst others.

In conclusion, Women Rights are Human Rights guaranteed by laws. The violations against Women must be condemned and discouraged in strong terms at all levels in Nigeria and Plateau State in particular. Failure to take proactive measures in this regard could lead to more episodes of the Kangyang story in our communities.


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…….Roseline Funmilayo, Legal Officer, Lawyers Alert

Violence against women has always been known to be an ugly aspect of the average Nigerian society.  The Nigerian woman from data and media reports, as in many patriarchal societies, is exposed to gross abuses within domestic and outer circles, including political leadership.

Yet it cannot be denied that women activists, local and international NGOs, Inter-governmental agencies etc. have over the decades, put in quite an appreciable amount of efforts, woman hours and resources into reversing the trend.

On the surface, has there been any progress?

With regard to laws and policies, a probable yes, in practice, a tentative no. Even though CEDAW is yet to be domesticated, the spirit of the convention is alive in local laws, like the Gender Equality Law in several states of the country, 30% affirmative action especially at the federal level has largely ben complied with especially within the present federal government, Nigeria has produced a female Chief Justice of the Federation and a Finance Minister. So largely very good commentary on the legal and policy sides of the divide.

In practice though, these laws have hardly translated into meaningful impact at the local and rural level where more than 80% of women who really suffer violence, abuse and discrimination reside in Nigeria. Are women activist efforts geared more at laws and policies at the expense of the rural women in practice? Harmful traditional practices like FGM, early marriages, inheritance denial on grounds of gender are still abound in Nigeria.  Women in difficult situations in marriages would rather stay in and keep up with the domestic violence from their husbands than seek help from institutions built up to render such services cause of lack of cooperation.

The National Human Rights Commission during the publication of its newsletter October to December 2013 on page 6 reported a story of a middle aged Nigerian woman who was stabbed on the waist and right breast by her  husband.  She reported the matter to the Human Rights Commission because having first reported to the police. The Police took informed her, her case was a domestic issue and should be settled at the family level. This is just one of the many cases of violence against women where in practice the law encourages and tacitly endorses.

Even though the female Genital Mutilation (FGM) which done largely to prevent girls from being promiscuous, but dire health consequences latter in the life of the female, is still tacitly approved of. No person has been prosecuted as a deterrent, and local midwives actively continue to implement this, and in fact train new midwives on the art of female circumcision.

Traditions exist in Nigeria where a woman is forced to drink the water used to bath deceased husband as a proof that she is not culpable in the death of the husband in some climes today in rural Nigeria! There is no gain saying that this barbaric act has very gross implications on the life of the woman. In some other traditions a woman is left in the same room with her deceased husband for many nights, she is not allowed to step out of the room, she is not allowed to have a bath and her hair is completely shaven. Yes, in 2015.

In the light of this, perhaps women rights issues should reconsider or at least balance policy and legal efforts to practical efforts in terms of grassroots awareness campaign towards attitudinal change. Often we go, hurray, we got that law passed, forgetting that it is in effect just a printed paper unless it is activated and impacts in the lives of the citizen, in this case, the rural woman.

We should rise up to this challenge, not to rest on our oars, but ensure all forms of violence against the rural Nigerian woman is eradicated or reduced to the barest minimum by creating an grassroots awareness, enlighten women especially women in the rural areas on their basic rights and how to recognize the abuse of those rights and report on them. Maybe we will then begin to reach the women left behind.

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Posted by on April 24, 2015 in Women Rights and Gender


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