Nigeria recorded over 3,600 rape cases during COVID-19 lockdown

Security forces are also accused of human rights abuses that went largely unpunished in 2020.

Activists protested against rape and gender-based violence in Nigeria last year after a series of high-profile incidents [CNN]

Over 3,600 cases of rape were recorded across Nigeria during the period of lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, according to Amnesty International.

Many states in the country placed restrictions on non-essential activities starting March and started easing them in May in a bid to contain COVID-19 that has infected over 133 million people globally.

The lockdown was noted to have aggravated incidents of gender-based violence and sexual assault, across the world, with women and children the most affected victims.

Amnesty did not elaborate on the over 3,600 rape cases in Nigeria, but quoted 'official statistics'.

The organisation said in a report, titled Amnesty International Report 2020/21: The State of the World's Human Rights, published on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 that the pandemic hit those shackled by oppression hardest thanks to decades of inequalities, neglect and abuse.

The human rights watchdog said victims of gender-based and domestic violence faced increased barriers to protection and support due to restrictions on freedom of movement, lack of confidential mechanisms to report violence while isolated with their abusers, and reduced capacity or suspension of services.

"COVID-19 has brutally exposed and deepened inequality across Sub-Saharan Africa.

"Governments should urgently re-invest in people and 'repair' the broken economic and social system which perpetuates poverty and inequality, including leaving too many behind," Amnesty International's West and Central Africa Director, Samira Daoud, said.

In its report focusing on Nigeria, Amnesty noted that brutal policing resulted in security forces killing people for protesting for accountability in 2020.

Hundreds of Nigerians, mostly young people, took the streets in a historic protest against years of police brutality.

The #EndSARS demonstrations led to the dissolution of the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force, but crackdown on the protesters by security forces left dozens of people dead.

"Everywhere, excessive use of force resulting in unlawful killings, and torture and other ill-treatment were widespread," Amnesty noted.

The report noted that over 1,500 people died in inter-communal violence and bandit attacks in the north-western and north-central regions, while terrorist group, Boko Haram, continued to commit grave human rights abuses in the north-east.

The Islamic sect killed than 420 civilians in around 45 attacks and continued to recruit child soldiers for an insurgency that has lasted 12 years.

Security forces were also accused of arbitrarily detaining and subjecting people to enforced disappearance, and other human rights abuses that went largely unpunished.

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