The year 2020 has been an incredibly difficult year, more so for victims and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in Nigeria who have had to deal with the impact of two pandemics; COVID-19 and SGBV. In May, Uwa was brutally raped in a church in Benin, the gruesome attack led to her death. Barakat Bello was raped and killed in her home in June; and Grace Oshiagwu was raped and killed in Ibadan.
GBV is a growing problem among older couples, women of age 50+ but it is not always taken seriously. So, they suffer in silence. It is rampant but mostly hidden because most victims fear reporting. This scenario is as a result of cultural, and social factors and norms, fear and embarrassment to ask for help, and the belief that the menace affects mostly the young women.
Sexual violence is among the most damaging crimes a person can inflict on another. The effects can be devastating, often involving life - changing consequences such as unwanted pregnancies, mental and physical problems, sexually transmitted infections, and sleep and eating disorders. Sadly, accurate information about the extent of sexual violence is difficult to obtain because most of these crimes are seriously under-reported to law enforcement.
Gender-based violence affects women of all ages. However, women aged 50+, have been left out of demographic surveys and studies. Most of the documented data is for women aged 15 -49 years. The lack of reliable and comprehensible data on this group makes it even difficult to design appropriate policies and interventions to support them. As a result, they end up invisible and neglected. We need to change this.
The ongoing rise of Covid19 has led to more restrictive measures on movement to curb the spread. It has now become difficult for gender based violence victims to move around to get help. Now has come a more actionable time than ever when GBV service providers thought outside the box. They have to come up with creative ways and tools to help survivors. It is no longer business as usual. Creativity and innovation is the new style of how services will be offered going forward.
In this pandemic, everyone in the community plays a critical role in providing safety for GBV survivors. With combined efforts we can combat GBV and the pandemic.
Gender based violence pattern