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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 May, 2005, 15:41 GMT 16:41 UK
Nigeria 'ignoring' beaten women
More than a third of Nigerian women are thought to have experienced physical, sexual or psychological forms of domestic violence, a report says.

Rights group Amnesty International says the attacks are largely tolerated and few cases are reported to the police.

When they are, Amnesty found, the authorities are often unsympathetic.

The government has made tentative first steps to acknowledge the problem and a Violence Against Women bill is due to be given its first public reading soon.

The police and courts often dismiss domestic violence as a family matter
Itoro Eze-Anaba
Legal Defence and Assistance Project

However, Amnesty says massive levels of domestic violence are untouched by these developments.

Folake, a domestic worker, accused her employer's husband of rape.

The allegation was backed up by medical evidence but in the end Folake was the one charged with slander and taken to prison.

Shocking

The 32-page report says that cases like these show just how frequently Nigerian girls and women are abused in the home without recourse to justice.

"On a daily basis Nigerian women are beaten, raped and even murdered by members of their family for supposed transgressions, which can range from not having meals ready on time to visiting family members without their husband's permission," said Amnesty's Stephane Mikala.

There are no accurate statistics available but Amnesty says that studies by NGOs suggest the level of domestic violence is shockingly high, with frequent incidents of beatings, rapes and even acid attacks.

"The police and courts often dismiss domestic violence as a family matter and refuse to investigate or press charges," said Itoro Eze-Anaba of the Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP), which contributed to the Amnesty report.

"Furthermore, the few rape victims who summon up the courage to take their cases to court face humiliating rules of evidence, patronising and discriminatory attitudes from police and court officials, and little chance of justice."


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