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UK government pledges to strengthen justice for sexual violence survivors

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Nigeria plans national campaign against rape
As the world marks the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict today, the United Kingdom (UK) government has restated its commitment to tackle conflict-related sexual violence and strengthen justice for survivors.

It said it is time to hold perpetrators of these horrific crimes to account in Nigeria and around the world.

The UK, in a statement signed by Press & Public Affairs Officer of the British Deputy High Commission, Lagos,
Ndidiamaka Eze, said: “We want to eliminate the culture of impunity around such horrific crimes, strengthen justice for survivors and hold perpetrators to account.

“This year, the UK is announcing the launch of the Murad Code, a global survivor-centred code of conduct that will prevent the re-traumatisation of survivors of conflict-related sexual violence. Experience has shown that when survivors report the crimes committed against them, they often relive harrowing experiences that can have a damaging impact.

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According to Eze, the draft Murad code was developed through an intensive and inspiring process of inter-disciplinary research and in-depth preliminary discussions with more than 160 survivors, national and international documenters, humanitarians, researchers, donors and other experts from across the globe.

She said: “In Nigeria, the cases of rape and other forms of sexual violence have continued to rise in conflict areas, as well as across the country in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown measures put in place by the Federal Government to stem its spread.

“The UK is working alongside organisations, civil society actors and individuals in partnership with the Nigeria’s federal and state governments to continue to challenge such harmful sexual crimes perpetrated against victims in conflict, and to support victims and survivors, especially women and girls, particularly in the northeastern part of the country.”

Speaking at a virtual meeting organised by the British High Commission to chart a way forward with sexual violence activists in Nigeria earlier in the week, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing CB, said: “As an old and close friend of Nigeria, the UK remains active in supporting ongoing efforts to reduce sexual violence in this country.

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“The UK is committed to strengthening justice for all survivors of conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV), and holding perpetrators of these horrific crimes to account in Nigeria and around the world.”

Meanwhile, the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture and its Women Affairs counterpart have concluded plans to launch a national campaign against rape and gender-based violence in the country.

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who disclosed this when he received a delegation of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), led by its Executive Secretary, Mr. Tony Ojukwu, in his office yesterday in Abuja, said the campaign had become necessary not only to raise awareness about rape and gender-based violence, but also to ensure that Nigerians own the fight against the abhorrent and repulsive criminal acts.

The minister said that the campaign would include advocacy, public sensitisation and social mobilisation and assured that the government would leave no stone unturned in its efforts to stamp out rape and other forms of violence against women.

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