Some 283 rights and advocacy organisations have called on the government to ensure the protection of women and girls against gender-based violence during the lockdown period due to the outbreak of Coronavirus.

In a statement jointly signed by Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, Executive Director, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre; Saudatu Mahdi, Secretary General, Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative; and Joy Ada Onyesoh, Country Director, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Nigeria on behalf of the organisations, they urged the government to strengthen the gender desks and family support units within police.

The groups stated that while the ‘stay-at-home’ order serves to protect families from the disease, it has the tendency to worsen sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls.

They added that experience from other countries like China shows a corresponding rise in the number of women reporting increased incidences of domestic violence.

The statement said, “It is only a matter of time that existing forms and prevalence will rise beyond the current index of one-in-three Nigerian women and girls experiencing SGBV in private and public spaces.

“We therefore call on Nigeria’s Federal and state governments to ensure respect of women’s human rights and protection from gender-based violence within the context of the lockdown in FCT, Lagos and Ogun states, and other states in total or partial lockdown.

“As the nation locks down, and in a bid to prevent the pandemic, it is important that these support and protection services are available and accessible so that women are shielded from the risks of transferred aggression in their homes.”

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