In northern Nigeria, there is little freedom

In the very conservative and religious community of northern Nigeria, words are gradually emerging about sexual violence. The fear of stigma is still very strong and drives many victims to shut up, but society is starting to change.

From our special correspondent in Kano,

It was during his community service at the Kano State Ministry of Justice that Sadiya Adama Aliyu became aware of the problem. “At the ministry, we received complaints every day. When I met my husband, who is a doctor, he told me that he saw sexually exposed patients almost every day in his clinic. So it started, she says.

The young woman has since founded her own association: the Initiative for Support for Victims of Sexual Violence, which brings together healthcare professionals, five lawyers and teachers. The aim: to speed up proceedings and take cases of sexual abuse to court. “Yes, there are beliefs, but it’s a long process. That is why I wanted to found this association: to save time. », Underscores Saadiya Adama Aliyu.

“Society is changing”

Almost 40 cases are currently being followed by the association. That day, Sadiya welcomes two small victims and their young father to their home – he tells their story. “The attacker is an electrician. He had been called to fix a light bulb. He asked for candles to work, and the mother sent her daughter with a cell phone to turn him on. He took the opportunity to take the girl to the toilet in this room and he attacked her, he says.

The fear of gossip and stigma, the fear that the victims will no longer be able to marry, are all reasons to remain silent. But things are gradually changing according to this young head of the family. Before, if something like this happened, people preferred to keep quiet, because they said he was a friend; a neighbor, a friend of the family ”. Now people talk more easily. Society is changing, he states.

An application that helps victims and relatives in their efforts

In addition to the fact that the victims and their loved ones often have problems knowing where to turn for help. It is on the basis of this observation that Saadat Aliyu, a 27-year-old developer,created Helpio, an application that helps victims file a complaint.

“If you log in, you will see an information page. Then there is a section where you can report an assault. Tell me where it took place. Here in Kano, we work with two organizations. You enter the victim’s name, your own identity and the case is monitored by one of the organizations – and we can follow the progress in the case, the developer explains.

50 reports have been recorded since the launch of the Helpio application in April. But a new improved version will soon be uploaded and available in several local languages.


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