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Tackling Nigeria Rape Epidemic

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At the start of each day, Dr. Anita Kemi DaSilva-Ibru and her team put on gloves, facemasks and other personal protective equipment to see their patients.
Tackling Nigeria Rape Epidemic

They’re not treating people for Covid-19, but they are on the frontline of the pandemic, working at the Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF), a rape crisis center in Lagos, Nigeria.

One in four Nigerian girls has been the victim of sexual violence, according to UN estimates but DaSilva-Ibru says the numbers are higher as many cases go unreported due to the stigma attached.

In recent weeks, two high profile cases of gender-based violence have brought Nigerian women out onto the streets demanding change.
Uwaila Vera Omozuwa, a 22-year-old microbiology student, was found half-naked in a pool of blood in a local church where she had gone to study after the Covid-19 lockdown left universities across the country shut.
“Rape is an epidemic in this country.” – Dr. Anita Kemi DaSilva-Ibru, Women at Risk International Foundation told CNN
Her family said her attackers raped her and the student died while being treated at the hospital.
A few days later, another student, Barakat Bello, was allegedly raped and killed during a robbery at her home, according to human rights group Amnesty International.
When Seyitan Babatayo tweeted on June 3 that veteran Afrobeats pop star Dbanj raped her in 2018, she might have been expecting he could sue her for defamation of character but probably not that she would be arrested by the police who she claimed proceeded to intimidate her.
Following an outpouring of support and outrage from Nigeria’s civil society groups and social media users, Babatayo regained her freedom two days later on June 18 but not before deleting the accusatory tweets about Dbanj, 40, whose real name is Oladapo Oyebanjo.
In addition a tweet with Dbanj’s photo was posted on her account alongside a reconciliatory caption, a move many suspected was coerced.
But late on Tuesday (June 23), Babatayo released a statement claiming four police officers, pretending to be delivery men, arrested her in her home without a warrant, and after 48 hours in jail, Dbanj’s team took her to an undisclosed location, where they made her sign a gag order.
The June 18 tweet from Seyitan Babatayo’s account which appeared to absolve Dbanj of her rape allegations
“I was isolated from my family, coerced, pressured and intimidated in person by Dbanj and his team to retract all statements and to announce that my testimony was a publicity stunt,” wrote the final year university student in her press statement, adding that she is not seeking financial compensation from the singer but an apology.
She also alleges Dbanj, through his team, has continued to harass her via phone calls and boasted he can “buy off anyone within the justice system in Lagos.”
An Instagram post published the day earlier on Dbanj’s page showed him dancing and alluding to the police probe into the rape  allegation in song.
The video’s caption read, “Innocent until proven guilty… STOP social media trial. Say no to rape and human rights violations.”
A woman, who didn’t want to use her name to protect her identity, told CNN in a report that a co-worker raped her after he came to her apartment unannounced in April.
The young banker said she had previously rebuffed his attempts to visit, but on that Sunday afternoon in April, he showed up at her doorstep.
“He’s a friend, not a stranger, so I opened the door for him. I was still asking him what was so urgent that made him leave his home. He said he wanted to check up on me and I told him he could have done that over the phone,” she told CNN.
But a few minutes into his visit, the conversation became uncomfortable between them.
“He kept coming towards me, and when I told him to stop, he put his hand over my mouth and pinned me on the floor,” she said.
She says he apologized after raping her and hurriedly left her house.

The survivor told CNN she did not make a police complaint because she was worried about the stigma and strain that the rape might have on her parents.

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“Sometimes I get really angry, and sometimes I feel numb,” she said, reflecting on the assault.
She says she was sick every night for 28 days because of the drugs.

“…even though the doctor prepared me for the side effect, it has not been easy,” she told CNN.
“Rape is an epidemic in this country,” DaSilva-Ibru told CNN.
DaSilva-Ibru says her work with survivors of sexual violence has become more critical during the outbreak, with restrictions to curb the virus from spreading fueling a surge in calls.
It’s a story echoed in other parts of the region, as authorities grapple with a growing number of Covid-19 cases and the impact restrictions are having on women.
The challenges Ibru faces to keep the center open, doesn’t compare to what sexual violence victims have experienced as a result of this pandemic, she said.
At the start of each day, Dr. Anita Kemi DaSilva-Ibru and her team put on gloves, facemasks and other personal protective equipment to see their patients.

They’re not treating people for Covid-19, but they are on the frontline of the pandemic, working at the Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF), a rape crisis center in Lagos, Nigeria.

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One in four Nigerian girls has been the victim of sexual violence, according to UN estimates but DaSilva-Ibru says the numbers are higher as many cases go unreported due to the stigma attached.

In recent weeks, two high profile cases of gender-based violence have brought Nigerian women out onto the streets demanding change.
Uwaila Vera Omozuwa, a 22-year-old microbiology student, was found half-naked in a pool of blood in a local church where she had gone to study after the Covid-19 lockdown left universities across the country shut.
“Rape is an epidemic in this country.” – Dr. Anita Kemi DaSilva-Ibru, Women at Risk International Foundation told CNN
Her family said her attackers raped her and the student died while being treated at the hospital.
A few days later, another student, Barakat Bello, was allegedly raped and killed during a robbery at her home, according to human rights group Amnesty International.
When Seyitan Babatayo tweeted on June 3 that veteran Afrobeats pop star Dbanj raped her in 2018, she might have been expecting he could sue her for defamation of character but probably not that she would be arrested by the police who she claimed proceeded to intimidate her.
Following an outpouring of support and outrage from Nigeria’s civil society groups and social media users, Babatayo regained her freedom two days later on June 18 but not before deleting the accusatory tweets about Dbanj, 40, whose real name is Oladapo Oyebanjo.
In addition a tweet with Dbanj’s photo was posted on her account alongside a reconciliatory caption, a move many suspected was coerced.
But late on Tuesday (June 23), Babatayo released a statement claiming four police officers, pretending to be delivery men, arrested her in her home without a warrant, and after 48 hours in jail, Dbanj’s team took her to an undisclosed location, where they made her sign a gag order.
The June 18 tweet from Seyitan Babatayo’s account which appeared to absolve Dbanj of her rape allegations
“I was isolated from my family, coerced, pressured and intimidated in person by Dbanj and his team to retract all statements and to announce that my testimony was a publicity stunt,” wrote the final year university student in her press statement, adding that she is not seeking financial compensation from the singer but an apology.
She also alleges Dbanj, through his team, has continued to harass her via phone calls and boasted he can “buy off anyone within the justice system in Lagos.”
An Instagram post published the day earlier on Dbanj’s page showed him dancing and alluding to the police probe into the rape  allegation in song.
The video’s caption read, “Innocent until proven guilty… STOP social media trial. Say no to rape and human rights violations.”
A woman, who didn’t want to use her name to protect her identity, told CNN in a report that a co-worker raped her after he came to her apartment unannounced in April.
The young banker said she had previously rebuffed his attempts to visit, but on that Sunday afternoon in April, he showed up at her doorstep.
“He’s a friend, not a stranger, so I opened the door for him. I was still asking him what was so urgent that made him leave his home. He said he wanted to check up on me and I told him he could have done that over the phone,” she told CNN.
But a few minutes into his visit, the conversation became uncomfortable between them.
“He kept coming towards me, and when I told him to stop, he put his hand over my mouth and pinned me on the floor,” she said.
She says he apologized after raping her and hurriedly left her house.

The survivor told CNN she did not make a police complaint because she was worried about the stigma and strain that the rape might have on her parents.

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“Sometimes I get really angry, and sometimes I feel numb,” she said, reflecting on the assault.
She says she was sick every night for 28 days because of the drugs.

“…even though the doctor prepared me for the side effect, it has not been easy,” she told CNN.
“Rape is an epidemic in this country,” DaSilva-Ibru told CNN.
DaSilva-Ibru says her work with survivors of sexual violence has become more critical during the outbreak, with restrictions to curb the virus from spreading fueling a surge in calls.
It’s a story echoed in other parts of the region, as authorities grapple with a growing number of Covid-19 cases and the impact restrictions are having on women.
The challenges Ibru faces to keep the center open, doesn’t compare to what sexual violence victims have experienced as a result of this pandemic, she said.

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