On SGBV in Nigeria: How States Are Faring.

Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) has become an issue of deep concern globally and particularly in Nigeria where 1 in every 3 women have experienced some sort of physical or sexual violence, or both.  Recently, there has been an increase in rape and sexual assault cases which are mostly reported on via social media platforms. 

At ResearcherNG, we decided to measure the preparedness of states to handle SGBV issues in relation to the prevalence level of SGBV in those states. We put five criteria into consideration: Availability of Sex Offenders Register, a Dedicated State Institution for Reporting/ Handling SGBV cases, existing Legislation Against SGBV (particularly the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act  and the Child Rights Act(CRA)) and a Shelter for Women/Girls Seeking Refuge from Abusive partners. 

Why This Matters
Data on SGBV in Nigeria is almost absent as most of the cases are unreported or not properly documented. In its 2018 survey, the National Population Commission said more than half of women (55%) who have experienced physical or sexual violence have never sought help to stop the violence; only 32% have sought help. In the event where victims seek help, not all states have sufficient legislation to punish perpetrators. In 2015, the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act which has stronger and more inclusive legislations about SGBV (than existing ones), was passed into law but it has only been adopted in a few states. The criminal code and the penal codes are used by states in SGBV issues. 23 states need to pass the VAPP Act for it to become national law. 

How We Did This 
In arriving at this index, we put five criteria into consideration as measures for the preparedness of states to handle incidences of sexual and gender-based violence. We used data from the National Population Commission and other verified sources. To measure the overall prevalence of physical and sexual violence on women, we calculated the percentage prevalence on physical and sexual violence against women from the DHS survey of 2018.  (Prevalence: Percentage of women age 15-49 who have experienced physical violence since age 15). We ranked the states by the availability of each of the criteria, assigning a score of 20 to each. While most of the data were obtained from what we deem reliable sources, the information we have provided is subject to further verification and updates as legislations are adopted in states and as the numbers change.

What We Found
Gombe state has the highest prevalence of SGBV in Nigeria, and it has not domesticated the VAPP or Child Rights Act, it also ranks among the lowest on the index. Sokoto, Zamfara, and Kebbi were also in the lowest-ranked states with a score of zero.  Only Lagos, Ekiti, and the FCT have met all the criteria in view i.e. they have a Sex Offenders Register, a Dedicated State Institution for Reporting/ Handling SGBV, existing Legislation Against SGBV (particularly the VAPP) and a Shelter for Women/Girls Seeking Refuge from Abusive Relationships. However, in a focus group meeting we conducted, women highlighted that the shelters in some of the states like the ones for the FCT did not particularly meet the required standards and are not easily accessible.