In a major clampdown on sex related offenses, the Nigerian government on Monday inaugurated the country’s first ever sexual offenders register, a public database which contains the names of all those prosecuted for sexual violence since 2015.
According to Juliana Joseph, an official of Nigeria’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), Kaduna , convicted rapists whose name appear in the register will find it impossible to secure jobs outside Nigeria or travel abroad.
“Employers of labour go there to find out if the name of the proposed employee is in the register. It is supposed to be a naming and shaming register, she said.
“People will see that once their names are on the register, even leaving the country becomes difficult. Other countries will always search for the names on the register. Once your name is there, you will not be able to go to school or travel freely abroad. Once your name goes in there, you are finished for life,” Ms Joseph added.
Sadiya Farouq, Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, said during the launch in Abuja that “The register will serve as a strategy to stop those engaged in violence against women.”
The conviction or prosecution records would be available online to better help the public, state bodies and police conduct background checks and identify repeat offenders.
Suspects who are cleared of any sexual offense allegations will also be recorded in a part of the register only available to law enforcement agencies. This is due to concerns by campaigners that the majority of sexual offenders escape prosecution due to failings in the justice system.
It was said that regular citizens will have seamless access to the register, which is managed by Nigeria’s National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking Persons (NAPTIP) and is funded mainly by the European Union.
To update the register, an initial group of 15 NGOs have been anointed to monitor police and media reports across Nigeria.
Update to the register will be done on a monthly basis.
According to the United Nations children agency UNICEF, one in four Nigerian women are sexually abused by before they turn 18 — and the majority of cases of sexual abuse in country are not prosecuted.
Currently, only two of Nigeria’s 36 states—Lagos and Ekiti—keep databases of those convicted of sexual offences.