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Violence against Children in Nigeria had not Been Given Priority until Now

Nigeria has long struggled to deal with child rape. One in 10 boys and one in three girls in Nigeria experience sexual violence before the age of 18, according to UNICEF’s data. The majority of victims treated at the four sexual assault referral centres in Kaduna were children. In September, Kaduna’s state governor, Nasir el-Rufai enacted a new law in the highly conservative, majority-Muslim state. Males convicted of raping children under 14 will now be surgically castrated and executed while women convicts will have their fallopian tubes removed and be executed. For perpetrators who rape children over 14, the punishment is the same, but with life imprisonment instead of execution. Public holidays have come to be known as the darkest days here because that is when the worst cases of abuse happen. During those days children are often in closer proximity to their abusers. Neighbours, friends and classmates are often perpetrators of child sex abuse in Nigeria, according to a 2014 UNICEF report that surveyed more than 4,000 children. In the commercial hub, Lagos, 73 percent of survivors treated in 2019 at the Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF), another referral centre, were under the age of 18. Similarly, a national survey conducted by Nigerian polling service NOIPolls, found that 72 percent of rape victims were aged between one and 15 years old at the time of the incident.