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Women rights groups, including 283 organisations, have urged the Federal Government to prepare for the likely surge in cases of sexual and gender-based violence resulting from the coronavirus lockdown imposed by President Buhari on March 29th in Ogun, Lagos and Abuja.

The statement read, “While the ‘stay-at-home’ order serves to protect families from the disease, it has the tendency to worsen sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls.

“Experience from other countries, like China, shows a corresponding rise in the number of women reporting increased incidents of domestic violence. Tension arising from the economic impact of the lockdown such as reduced income and financial difficulties are contributing to this surge.

“The President acknowledged that the restrictions would impose hardship on Nigerians but emphasised that the pandemic was a matter of life and death. In some instances, sexual and gender-based violence is a matter of life and death in Nigeria.”

The women therefore called on Government to out some measures in place to protect women and vulnerable people in times like this.

“We therefore call on Nigeria’s federal and state governments to ensure respect of women’s rights and protection from gender-based violence within the context of the lockdown in the FCT, Lagos and Ogun states, and other states in total or partial lockdown,” they stated.

They also called for the provision of support directly to family, to ameliorate hardship and reduce frustration and tension at the family level.

The groups urged government to respond to potential risks and challenges by, among other things, designating and strengthening gender desks and family support units within police departments and other departments of government.

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