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Criminal Code 2004

Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999

The Penal Code

The Ciminal Procedure Act

Evidence Act 2011

United Nations Charter 1945

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966

International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights 1966

The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of discrimination

Against Women 1979

Convention against Torture and other Cruel, inhuman or Degrading

 Treatment or Punishment 1984

Convention on the Rights of a Child 1989

United Nation Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action 1995

The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons,

 Especially Women and Children 2000

The African Charter on Human and People’s Rights 1980

Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the

Rights of Women in Africa 2003

Violence against Women Act 1994

Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2006

Constitution of India 1950

The Domestic Violence Act (Act 732) 2007

The Criminal Code 1960 (Act 29)

Violence Against persons (Prohibition) Act, 2015

Trafficking in Person (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act, 2015

Protection against Domestic Violence Law of Lagos State, 2007

Ekiti State Gender Based Violence (Prohibition) Law, 2011

The Enugu State Prohibition of Infringement of a Widow or Widower’s

Fundamental Rights Law, 2001

The Rivers State Reproductive Health Service Law, 2003

Edo State Maternal Mortality Monitoring Law, 2001

Women Reproductive Rights Anambra, 2005

Cross River State Prohibition of Girl Child Marriages and Female

Circumcision or Genital Mutilation Law, 2000

Edo State Law to Prohibit Female Genital Mutilation Law, 1999.

Matrimonial Causes Act, CAP M7, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004

Marriage Act, CAP M7, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004


UDHR             -           Universal Declaration of Human Rights

CEDAW         -           Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination

Against Women

PAHO             -           Pan-African Health Organisation

UNIFEM        -           United Nations Development Fund for Women

UNHCR          -           United Nations High commissioner for Refugees     

NDHS             -           Nigeria Demographic Health Survey

WHO              -           World Health Organisation

UN                  -           United Nations

RTS                 -           Rape Trauma Syndrome

PTSD              -           Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

ICCPR            -           International Covenant on Civil and political Rights

ICESCR          -           International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

CAT                -           Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or

Degrading Treatment or Punishment

DEVAW         -           Declaration on the Elimination of violence against women

UNODC         -           United Nations Office on drugs and Crime

SADC             -           The Southern African Development Community’s Declaration

on Gender and development

VAWA           -           Violence against Women’s Act

PWDVA         -           Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act

NGO               -           Non-Governmental Organisation

VAPP              -           Violence against Person (Prohibition) Act

WOTCLEF     -           Women Trafficking and Child labour aeradication Foundation

FSP                 -           Family Support Programme

VCT                -           Voluntary, Counselling and Testing

WRAPA         -           Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative

FGM               -           Female Genital Mutilation

CAP                -           Chapter

WACOL         -           Women Aid Collective

SARC             -           Sexual Assault Referral Centre

LEDAP           -           Legal Defence Assistance Project of Nigeria



1.1       Background of The Study

Gender Based Violence has been part of human history and it is a particularly disturbing phenomenon which exists in all regions of the world. It is a key health risk affecting women all over the world today. It is of great importance to note here that it is the fundamental right of every person whether male or female to have his or her human dignity respected. All human beings are born free and sexual in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in the spirit of brotherhood[1].

In today’s world, it is clear that gender-based violence is multifaceted and all-encompassing as it affects both gender, that is, it includes violence against both men and women. It follows that, violence has not been a woman’s problem exclusively, some men in the past years have been recorded also to be exposed to violence from the female gender[2]. However, the scope of this study focuses more on women as they are deemed more vulnerable to the menace owing to the patriarchal socio- cultural model of society where the man is seen as superior and the woman inferior in all ramifications (socially, economically, politically and otherwise).

Prior to this era, violence against women was not perceived as a serious issue to be considered, let alone to be seen as a human right violation. It was not until the Vienna World Convention on Human Rights in 1993 that Women’s rights were recognized as Human Rights and this position was later affirmed at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994[3]. Thus, violence against women is now widely recognized as a serious human right encroachment and an important public health problem with substantial consequences- physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health[4]. Violence against women includes many kinds of harmful behaviours ranging from physical, emotional and sexual behaviours directed towards women and girls in the family and very few times by strangers[5]. Violence against women has been regarded as perhaps the most shameful human right violation, and it is perhaps the most pervasive as it knows no geographical, cultural or wealth boundary.

In Nigeria to which the scope of this research is restricted, the case is not different. Studies have shown that gender-based violence is shockingly high[6]. According to the Nigeria Democratic and Health Survey (NDHS, 2013) which surveyed 38,948 women and 17,359 men in all 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, violence against women is “common practice”. The NDHS notes that: “Domestic violence cuts across all socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. Nearly three in ten Nigerian women have…experienced physical violence since age 15”[7]. The situation in Nigeria includes physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, violence related to exploitation; physical, sexual and psychological occurring within the general community including rape, sexual abuse, harassment and intimidation and intimation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women and forced prostitution. The list is in-exhaustive and includes incidences of forced marriages and dowry deaths. The Amnesty International in 2005 estimated that up to two-third of women in certain communities in Lagos State, Nigeria are believed to have experienced physical, sexual or psychological violence in the family, with neither the Lagos government doing anything to stem the tide of violence and in some cases even condoning it.[8]

There seems to be a “normalization” of these forms of violence on girls and women in Nigeria as customary, religious and traditional practices support some of these derogatory practices with the false idea of male dominance in the society. Women discrimination in marriage is encouraged under the misguided perception that the men are superior, and the women inferior. Undermining the fact that the Federal Government has adopted some measures and is signatory to various international treaties combating gender-based violence, it is still on an escalating level. It is suggested that there be a wake-up call to everyone concerned as to what can be done to tame this social leviathan which is vastly devouring our society.

However, the focus of this research is the evaluation and analysis of the various legal instruments, policies and responses that are available for the redress of victims of gender-based violence.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

Despite the plethora of international conventions provisos, regional human rights instruments, declarations and resolutions against violence on women that have been ratified by Nigeria and several measures adopted, national and state enactments, the prevalence of gender-based violence is still at its peak. What then is the way forward?

One of the key factors that hampers progress towards combating this menace is the response of the victims to their own predicament- reluctance in reporting incidences of violence as they fear ostracism or accepting the make-belief towards male dominance of which such beliefs results in maintaining the status quo-the frequency and severity of variation in violence and allow the control of victims through fear and intimidation which might preclude victim’s reaction against violence.

1.3       Research Questions

This research set out to address the following questions:

1.         What are the various forms of gender-based violence?

2.         What are the various provisions on legal redress available to victims of gender-based violence?

3.         How far have instruments on gender-based violence been enforced to benefit victims of gender-based violence in Nigeria?

4.         What are the responses of victims and relevant stakeholders to the prevalence of gender-based violence in Nigeria?

5.         What ways can the appropriate authorities help to ensure effective remedies for gender-based violence in Nigeria.

1.4       Objectives of The Study

This research work has the following objectives:

1.      To explain the background and forms of gender-based violence in Nigeria.

2.      To highlight provisions on legal redress for victims of gender-based violence.

3.      To examine the extent to which the redress for gender-based violence has been enforced in Nigeria.

4.      To assess the responses of victims and other key authorities to the prevalence of gender- based violence in Nigeria.

5.      To recommend viable strategies that can be developed by appropriate authorities to ensure redress for victims and curbing gender-based violence.

1.5       Significance of The Study

This study brings to light what gender-based violence is all about, perpetrators and victims involved, the need to protect the victims (to prevent it from happening again) and appropriate assistance to treat any physical and psychological consequences, and factors that encourage its prevalence in the Nigerian society.

This work serve as a guide that can be useful to students, counsels, non-governmental organisations that handle issues on gender violence, human right lawyers and organisations. This area of research also provides a structure that makes inquiries into reports on various experiences of victims of gender-based violence in Nigeria.

1.6       Scope of Research

The scope of this research work is limited to examining the various legal redress available to victims of gender-based violence in Nigeria with particular reference to women and children. The work will also take a look at legal redress made available to victims in some selected jurisdictions. The work will also contain some general statistical records of various forms of violence meted out on women and girls in some states in Nigeria. The work will examine the redresses available both at the international and national plane.

1.7       Research Methodology

            This research work is library based. The writer relies on both primary and secondary sources. The writer also employs the narrative method in tracing the history, meaning and the various forms of Gender Based Violence. A comparative study of provisions in selected jurisdictions will be examined to see how victims of gender violence in such countries are provided redress.

. The union of the above methods will bring to light the core issues involved in the research work.

1.8       Definition of Key Concepts

            According to some authors, the concept of gender-based violence can be categorized into two, namely;

1.      Discrimination and

2.      Violence.

Discrimination: In 1979, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women(CEDAW) and Article 1 of the Convention defines discrimination as “any distraction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the purpose or effect of impairing or nullifying the recognition of enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, social, cultural, civil or any other field”[9]. The same article clearly provides for the right to be free from all forms of discrimination which is impari materia with S.49 of the Constitution Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999. It prohibits discrimination based on sex.

Violence: Violence may be seen as any emotional destructive act that occurs between two people[10]. Within families, it means the destructive behavior among members to or outside the family. The violence could be both emotional and physical, which assumes the form of sibling rivalry, fighting among children, parent-child corporal punishment, wife beating, child abuse, child battering, infanticide, filicide, or parricide[11]. Violence against women includes all acts perpetuated against women causing or being capable of causing physical harm, sexual or psychological suffering, such as threats of constraints, or arbitrary deprivation of fundamental freedom of women be it in public or private life in times of peace or in conflicts

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