June 5, 2020 / 2:10 PM / a month ago

Nigerian campaigners stage protest over sexual violence

Protesters wearing face masks, carry banners as they stage a demonstration to raise awareness about sexual violence, in Abuja, Nigeria June 5, 2020. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigerian rights campaigners took to the streets of the capital Abuja on Friday to raise awareness about sexual violence in the West African country after a series of high-profile rape cases.

#JusticeforUwa has trended on social media in the last week after Vera Uwaila Omosuwa, a 22-year-old student, died two days after she was raped in a church in the southern city of Benin.

More than 200 protesters marched around police headquarters in Abuja, chanting and holding placards that read “Justice for all Nigerian girls and women”, and “No means no”.

The march was one of a number of activities planned by campaigners to raise awareness of sexual violence and urge politicians to set aside more money to tackle the issue and ensure police independence.

“Children are dying, women are dying, enough is enough,” said Dorothy Njemanze, one of the protest organisers.

Njemanze said she and other campaigners were “watching every step of everything they (politicians) say and do on sexual based violence”.

Nigeria’s most senior policeman has ordered the immediate deployment of additional investigators to specialist gender violence desks, a Police Force statement said on Tuesday.

“This is to strengthen and enhance the capacity of the units to respond to increasing challenges of sexual assaults and domestic/gender-based violence linked with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and other social ills within the country,” it said.

Reporting by Abraham Achirga in Abuja; additional reporting and writing by Alexis Akwagyiram in Lagos; editing by Philippa Fletcher

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