On 25 November, The Nigeria Sexual Offender Register will be launched officially by the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
The event slated to hold at the Congress Hall of Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, will have Leymah Gbowee, the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, as a keynote speaker.
This event can easily be described as the cumulative effect of unrelenting advocacy by The Consent Workshop, a youth-led non-profit organization deconstructing rape through consent education, social awareness and resources. The organisation occasionally sets up workshops across the country, in a bid to educate young people on consent and other important tenets of sexual politics. In March, the organization created a petition to get new and efficient sexual offender registries running in all parts of the country.
The register, which is explained to be a documentation of reported, tried or convicted cases of sexual violence and abuses in line with the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act of 2015, would not only help the government keep track of these offenders, but its accessibility would enable the general public in their dealings with them. At a time where there are almost no reports of sexual offenders getting convicted when alleged, developments like this offer a way to accost this menace squarely.
Rape culture has in recent times slipped through the institutionalized palms, that have clamped down on it and has gone on to dominate a larger part of what we talk about today. As the deconstruction around the supposed fogginess of consent, bodily autonomy and sexual rights push on, a number of women-led NGO’s and activists have risen up to the fore of the conversation, wrenching the narrative from the noncommittal spaces where these conversations were housed.
In October, filmmaker, on-air personality, and vocal advocate for gender equality, Kiki Mordi, released her documentary on the widely known but often ignored circumstances where university lecturers proposition their students for sex in exchange for marks. The documentary revealed the devastating effects of this culture on students, who suffer grave consequences from refusing these offers. It prompted the Senate to propose a bill that intends to subject offending lecturers to a 14-year jail term.
Organizations like the Stand To End Rape Initiative (S.T.E.R), has done tremendous work in advocating against sexual violence and supporting victims of sexual violence in both psychological and preventive capacities.
This is why a sexual offender register is a good step in the right direction. While there is still more to be done in regards to our social engineering and how the law starts to take sexual assault seriously, and one can only hope this change arrives soon.