Nigerian Launches First Sex Offender Register

Nigerian Launches First Sex Offender Register

The first sex offender register in Nigeria has been launched by Nigeria's National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking Persons.

In Nigeria, cases of sexual assault aren’t reported enough. Also, data on reported cases are scarce or outdated. But that’s about to change, as Nigeria launches first sex offender register. The register will list people who have been prosecuted for sexual assault from 2015. The register will be available online. Most importantly, it will allow authorities to do background checks and identify repeat offenders.

Nigeria launches first sex offender register

Naptip Nigeria sex offender register

Sexual assault is on the rise in Nigeria. Plus, it doesn’t help that sexual assault victims are blamed when they come forward. Neither does the fact that not many sex offenders have been successfully prosecuted. Truly, the number of prosecutions are quite low. According to UNICEF, one in four girls in the country have experienced sexual violence by the age of 18. Also, they do not receive any form of support. In Lagos, police authorities say that children are the most frequently assaulted group. Sadly, their abusers are relatives and family friends.

Therefore, the register is a step towards putting offenders out in the open. Campaigners have praised such a step. Oluwaseun Osowobi says that every reported case anywhere in the country will appear on the register. This means that offenders will have no place to hide. Osowobi is the director of  Stand To End Rape, a Nigerian NGO that supports survivors of sexual violence.

Hajiya Sadiya Umar-Farouq, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

Hajiya Sadiya Umar-Farouq, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development./Image: Twitter

Furthermore, police have reported that the number of reported cases in Nigeria has risen. Which means that the launch of the register is timely. Under this system, data will flow into the register from different sources. Including nongovernmental organisations. Also, 15 NGOs will monitor reported cases and provide updates to the online register which ordinary citizens can also access. Nigeria’s National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking Persons will manage the register, however, it is the European Union that mainly funds it.

What Does This Mean For Nigeria

What Does launching the sex offender register Mean For Nigeria

In addition, Osowobi said the court did not prosecute cases of sexual assault for flimsy reasons. She also mentioned that the police method of data collection was unprofessional and archaic. As a result, they regularly misplaced files and evidence. Hopefully, the register will help bring more sexual offenders to book.

Ketil Kalson, Head of the EU delegation to Nigeria, made a call for collaborative efforts to stem the tide, as the challenges were not exclusive to Nigeria alone.

We need to understand that this is a global phenomenon that requires the collaborative effort of everyone. “This is a great step because it will go a long way to help in curbing the menace, as no one would want his name to appear in the register.”

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Aljazeera

Written by

Lydia Ume