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Key findings
  • Gender-based violence (GBV) ranks third among the most important women’s-rights issues that Nigerians want their government and society to address.
  • A majority (58%) of citizens say violence against women is “not very common” or “not at all common” in their community, but 41% – and 45% of women – disagree.
  • About eight in 10 Nigerians (79%) say it is “never justified” for a man to physically discipline his wife.
  • Almost half (47%) of respondents consider it “somewhat likely” (28%) or “very likely” (19%) that a woman will be criticised, harassed, or shamed if she reports an incident of GBV to the authorities. Far fewer (24%) say this is “very unlikely.”
  • More than two-thirds (68%) of Nigerians say domestic violence should be treated as a private matter to be resolved within the family rather than as a criminal matter that involves law enforcement agencies.

According to the United Nations Population Fund (2022), “gender-based violence is one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world [and] knows no social, economic or national boundaries.” In Nigeria, more than 10,000 women a day are believed to suffer gender-based violence (GBV), and many cases go unreported (Ugbodaga, 2021).

Gender-based violence takes many forms, including forced marriage of young girls, rape and attempted rape, homicide, female genital mutilation, violence against people with different sexual identities or orientations, trafficking in persons, and verbal abuse.

Nigeria has an array of legal weapons to fight GBV, including sections 17 and 34 of the Constitution, the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, the Lagos State Protection against Domestic Violence Law, and the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act. The Nigerian police has had a gender unit since 2012 as part of its efforts to address GBV in the country.

Despite laws, policies, and enforcement bodies, Nigerian women continue to fall victim to GBV. In one recent high-profile case, police arrested the husband of popular gospel singer Osinachi on allegations of domestic violence after her April 9 death in an Abuja hospital (Premium Times, 2022).

This dispatch reports on a special survey module included in the Afrobarometer Round 9 (2021/2022) questionnaire to explore Africans’ perceptions on gender-based violence. Findings show that Nigerians rank GBV as the third-most-important women’s-rights issue that the government and society must address, and that views are divided as to whether violence against girls and women is a common occurrence in their community.

Citizens overwhelmingly oppose the use of physical discipline against women. But a majority say domestic violence should be treated as a private matter to be resolved within the family rather than as a criminal matter requiring law enforcement to get involved.

While most Nigerians think the police take GBV cases seriously, many also consider it likely that a woman reporting an incident of GBV will be criticised, harassed, or shamed.

Raphael Mbaegbu

Raphael is a project manager for NOI Polls

Sunday Duntoye

Sunday is the data manager for NOI Polls