The reaction of Nigerians in seeking justice for sexual assault victims in Nigeria.
Problems and Purpose:
The citizen participation in reaction to the rape occurred on social media sometime in 2011. Due to the unresponsive nature of law enforcement officers and the society at large, the rate of sexual assault and harassment is on a constant rise. And with the setting of society where victims are further victimized by the society, this has led to most of these cases going unreported. Perpetrators of this menace have become more daring, emboldened by the belief that the victim will remain silent and justice will not be served. However, in the era of social media where it is easier to reach out to a wide array of people and give attention to these issues, there as been increase in the awareness on issues of sexual assault. Social media allows active participation in that it can be focused and at the sometime, broad.
The purpose of this paper is to shed some light on how issues of sexual assault have been addressed in Nigeria and spread awareness on the issue of sexual assault in Nigeria.
Background History and Context:
So many factors have contributed to the increase in the rate of sexual assault in Nigeria. Some of these factors are; victim blaming, victim shaming, stigmatization, high level of cases going unreported, lack of sexual education, etc. Most especially, the victim shaming and blaming discourage victims from reporting these cases for fear of being shamed and blamed by the society. Another fear for victims is that of stigmatization where they are viewed as tainted people the society would not want to be associated with. These responses by the society make it difficult for victims to speak out as they believe the situation will be worse. As such, sexual assaulters and harassers take advantage of these defective and negative societal norms with the confidence that their victims will not speak of their ordeal.
In 2012, it was reported that about 1,200 girls were raped in Rivers, a State in Southern Nigeria, of which most were gang rapes (Vanguard. 2013). Also, Vanguard (2013) reports that more than 31.4% of females reported their first sexual experience as rape. “Anecdotal evidence in Nigeria tells of a culture in which assaults are shockingly common, with a huge number of them unreported.”.
The incident that led to this citizen participation was sparked by the uploading of a video online of a woman being gang raped by five men in an off-campus hostel of the University of Abia sometime on August 17, 2011. This video caught the attention of a popular Nigerian blogger, Linda Ikeji, who then posted it and got the attention of a lot of Nigerians . The video kept being reposted to organisations and politicians. Awareness of this incident was majorly by the internet, including social media.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities:
Linda Ikeji, through her blog, was able to spread awareness of sexual assault which got the attention of some organisations including the youth group EnoughisEnough Nigeria, Delta women, Amnesty International in London, and the United Nations .
Participant Recruitment and Selection:
The research will be about sexual assault in Nigeria as a whole, drawing information and resources from the five regions of south, west, east, north, and the middle belt.
Methods and Tools Used:
This research is going to seek resources from the archives of Linda Ikeji Blog, the social media, the #metoo movement in Nigeria ( https://participedia.net/method/4939 ).
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation:
A video was uploaded on social media involving the gang raping of a female university student. This video then caught the attention of notable personalities in the Nigerian community which continued to share this video to the law makers in an effort to seek justice for this female.
On her post, Linda Ikeji was very passionate about the issue and expressed how disheartening the video had been (Ikeji, 2011). She went into detail about how many boys had raped this young woman, what the video depicted of the victim’s ordeal, the duration of the rape, the supposed reason for the rape, the countenance of the rapists, and identity of the rapists (Ikeji, 2011). Linda Ikeji talked about the politicians she had already reached out to, pleaded to readers to share with law makers and enforcers for justice to be served, and also solicited for organisations involved in human rights and women empowerment to take up the issue (Ikeji, 2011). Ikeji’s blog on this video was shared 149 times on social media and instant messenger such as; twitter, facebook, and whatsapp . Olubusola (2011), reported this story on World Pulse, a social network for women empowerment, where she stated what had been done so far in terms of how the school and the government of the state had lacked interest in pursuing the issue, but she was resilient in seeking justice for this young woman. Linda Ikeji was most likely the first to draw attention to this offence through her blog by posting the video the day after the incidence, August, 16, 2011. However, this video garnered so much attention that it was a major topic even in October 2011.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects:
From the attention sharing of unfortunate incidents of assault on Facebook, people have been able to get support and these situations have been shared targeting law enforcement officers and law makers. This has encouraged some victims to be more open about their situations because they are assured of some level of support. This has help reduce the amount of unreported cases of sexual assault by bringing it to the open .
Specifically, the mass outrage from the public after watching the video of the rape, provided awareness on the issue of sexual assault as that was a topic that was constantly addressed. This video gave an insight on the trauma sexual assault can inflict. As such, the issue of sexual assault was addressed here and awareness was definitely shared.
Analysis and Lessons Learned:
Akimbobola and Ikeji through their article has shown that social media can help bring issues of sexual assault to the open. And in viewing the effort taken by respected personalities to seek justice for these victims, this encourages these victims to not suffer in silence, but share their cases in the belief that justice can be gotten somewhat.
[1} Akimbobola, Y. (n.d.). Social media stimulates Nigerian debate on sexual violence | Africa Renewal. Retrieved October 3, 2019
 Edeh, O. (2018, January 31). Sexual assault and the culture of silence in Nigeria: ICWA. Retrieved from https://www.icwa.org/sexual-violence-in-nigeria/
 Hendricks, D. (2013, May 8).
The first version of this case entry was written by a Master of Public Service candidate at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, and then edited. The views expressed in the entry are those of the authors, editors, or cited sources, and are not necessarily those of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.