Last week, the internet went wild when the Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi posted via his twitter, a photograph of the first sex offender to be publicized from the Ekiti State sex offender’s list. Though the tweet has been deleted now, the photo has been reposted by several high profile feminists and social activists and been affirmed by the wife of the state governor as legitimate.
Bravo #EkitiState & @kfayemi 👏👏👏 We hope all states follow your lead regardless of who is involved whether Pastors, Imams, Lecturers or SSAs to Ministers.https://t.co/CkzVRXHZhK
*Ekiti State Commences Naming, Shaming of Sex Offenders,Names Priest Who Raped 7 Year Old Girl.*
— Kadaria Ahmed (@KadariaAhmed) August 16, 2019
Currently, there are only two states in Nigeria with an active sex offenders list; Kaduna and Ekiti state. Even Lagos state, which has the very efficient Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) and several courts in the state dedicated to sexual offences is yet to have a public database of all the people accused and convicted of sexual crimes.
Though private non-profits like Stand To End Rape are working hard to change this by partnering with the Harvard Business Law School to draft legislation for a nationwide sex offenders list, it still feels like not enough is being done to make people feel safe.This is hard to understand in a country with a rape culture so perverse, a public religious leader like Biodun Fatoyinbo can allegedly rape and sexually assault women for nearly two decades and not even be properly prosecuted by the Nigerian police.
The Nigerian judiciary is easy to corrupt and our police men are easy to bribe, so many people do not report cases of assault or rape for fear that they will be punished further for suffering violence. The Ekiti state registry and this move to publicly name abusers employs the element of shame, a powerful tool for Nigerians whose culture elevates public appearances over justice.
I really hope Bisi Fayemi, the wife of the governor who has been a major champion against rape culture and sexual violence and the Ekiti state government continue to publicize perpetrators convicted of assault in their communities. It will have a major effect in disincentivizing opportunistic assault and force everyone to take responsibility for their actions, irrespective of their motivations for doing so.
Edwin Okolo is an author and journalist who has worked with YNaija, TheNativemag and the Naked Convos.