Good Girls Don’t Get Raped

As a student at Imo State University in the 80s I used to hear stories of retributive gang rapes of uppity female students. Somehow they always happened to other girls on other campuses. I listened in wide eyed dis-belief.

It was like a morality lesson for young women: rape was punishment for bad behavior, ‘only bad girls get raped’. If you got raped you must have been ‘bad’. It was the boogey man that ‘kept us in line’ and working real hard at appearing to be ‘good girls’.

We weren’t of course. We went to parties, drank alcohol, had premarital sex and wore sexy clothes. I wonder how many of us didn’t resist or report a rape because we thought we deserved it. Some how. And then eventually convinced ourselves that it wasn’t really rape, that we ‘consented’.

You know you didn’t want to, you said you didn’t want to but he just ignored your protests and went ahead anyway. You’ve known him for awhile, maybe you were even thinking of ‘going’ with him. Maybe this was your first date with him. Maybe everyone says he’s great. Just that you weren’t ready.

How many of us went on to date the guy? I read online one girl is engaged to her rapist. I don’t agree with her choice but I do in some crazy way I think I know how she justified it. One of those things you hear. ‘We’ve done it already, we might as well do it again’.

Almost 20 years later a woman reported a rape at the FIDA branch where I was a member . She was a practicing medical doctor in her early thirties. I noticed she dressed conservatively because I don’t. Dress conservatively that is.

She described how she had gone on a date with a man who took her to his house, drugged her and with his flatmate spent the night raping her. The police did nothing. She came to FIDA for help. They asked ‘what was she doing there in the first place drinking alcohol?’ and dismissed her.

If you get that attitude from a bunch of female lawyers what can you expect from the police?  Its really not surprising to hear the Assistant Commissioner of Police in Abia State Mr. Micloth say the young woman we watched getting raped on the internet either ‘deserved’ it or ‘consented’. Outrageous yes, but not surprising.

Good girls don’t get raped.

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Is Rape on the Rise? Or Is It Women’s Activism?

I’ve lived in NIgeria long enough to be abe to say that the attitudes and behavior on sex, women and rape have been consistent over the past 30 years. What I think is that there is increased reporting and increased outrage from a growing middle class fueled by increased women’s activism.

That’s considerable progress. The efforts of the past 10+ years have not been in vain. The Nigerian women’s movement has had an impact. There is still so much more to be done but we can look back with a sense of accomplishment as we plan a new strategy.

I read that traditionally in some communities the penalty for rape was to compensate the father of the victim or marry her to her rapist.  A lot of research has done by Project Alert and CIRRDOC into the corelates of various forms of violence against women.

Women are beginnig to speak up and speak out, and the media is picking up their stories. Like this one from Enugu about a group of women that said enough is enough to male impunity. The ABSU Rape Walks in Lagos, Abuja and Abia last week were successful despite disruptions. They certainly rattled the police.

Now we need to make the law work for them.  How we do it is the next big challange.

We’re Crowd Funding to Set Up the Women’s Legal Defence Trust Fund. Please Support Us

What?

The Women’s Crisis Center Owerri is establishing a Women’s Legal Defense Trust Fund to aggregate funds from a variety of sources and to make grants with those funds to lawyers and organizations litigating cases that can have a broad impact on the protection, expansion and interpretation of women’s rights in Nigeria.

Why?

Because

  • Case law and apex court decisions have the potential to make sweeping changes in women’s rights protection and interpretation in Nigeria
  • Women and the lawyers that represent them frequently lack the funds required to access the justice system and to sustain litigation for a long time and through appeals
  • There are not enough public interest lawyers and NGO’s litigating women’s rights protection and interpretation
  • We want to systematically and strategically develop and report a body of case law to enhance and institutionalize legislative and policy changes that improve women’s rights.

How?

Fundraising

Crowd Funding & Donations

  • We believe that sustainable community and popular activism and action must be funded by the citizens
  • Funds will be crowd sourced online and solicited from private and corporate donors
  • Income, expenditure  and bank statements will be publicly reported  at regular intervals to be determined

Grants

  • In addition we will apply and accept grants from international institutions and bodies that share our principles and values
  • We will not take funds or grants from bilateral, multilaterals, or governments or their agents.

Publications

  • We will invest in and publish online and hard copy law reports, periodicals, books and journal to support the long term sustainability of the fund
  • We will invest in other social enterprise models that will support our goal and objectives

Grant Making

  • We will make direct grants to lawyers litigating cases that meet our criteria to cover legal fees, transport and accommodation out of station as applicable.
  • Cases will be chosen based on specific criteria that ensures they will have broad impact on a women and women’s rights nationally
  • Grantees will be chosen for their integrity, commitment, creativity,  and understanding of the legal issues involved
  • Grantees will report at regular intervals and will be given capacity building, mentoring and advisory support

Who?

Women’s Crisis Center was established in 2000 in Owerri Imo state in response to a study that showed the highest incidence of domestic and sexual violence occurred there.

The center ran a women’s shelter, an innovative community program to end violence, provided pro bono legal services and had a resource library.  The community program is in its tenth year while the resource center was moved to the federal capital for greater utility. The shelter was closed when it became evident that it did not fit the values of the community it served.

The WCC is managed by Lesley Agams, who will bring the experience she gained selecting and managing innovative social entrepreneurs and managing country programs for international organizations to the selection of the legal fund grant recipients and administration of the fund.  She will be a trustee and the Executive Director of the fund.

Ms. Iheoma Obibi, executive director of Alliances for Africa has accepted to be one of three trustee of the legal fund. Ms. Obibi, herself an Asoka fellow, will bring over 20 years experience as a leading women’s rights activist to the fund. You can read more about Ms. Obibi and her work at http://www.alliancesforafrica.org

When?

As soon as possible!

We have already initiated the registration process with the Corporate Affairs Commission in Abuja

Our next target is to raise an initial target of NGN1million in 3 months to complete the registration and launch officially with a press conference on October 4, 2012 and organize a major fund raising event on November 27, 2012

What We Would Like You to Do

Help us to reach our targets. Kindly donate to our fund. Help us protect and expand women’s rights and protections before the law.

Till we can pay for a website with Interswitch capability we request that you send your kind donations to the Women’s Crisis Center. No amount is too small!

God bless you as you support women’s rights development.

Account Details:

Name of Bank: Guaranty Trust Bank Plc

Name of Account: Women’s Crisis Centre Owerri

Account Number: 0023731452

Go to indiegogo here

We’re Crowd Funding to Set Up the Women’s Legal Defence Trust Fund. Please Support Us

What?

The Women’s Crisis Center Owerri is establishing a Women’s Legal Defense Trust Fund to aggregate funds from a variety of sources and to make grants with those funds to lawyers and organizations litigating cases that can have a broad impact on the protection, expansion and interpretation of women’s rights in Nigeria.

Why?

Because

  • Case law and apex court decisions have the potential to make sweeping changes in women’s rights protection and interpretation in Nigeria
  • Women and the lawyers that represent them frequently lack the funds required to access the justice system and to sustain litigation for a long time and through appeals
  • There are not enough public interest lawyers and NGO’s litigating women’s rights protection and interpretation
  • We want to systematically and strategically develop and report a body of case law to enhance and institutionalize legislative and policy changes that improve women’s rights.

How?

Fundraising

Crowd Funding & Donations

  • We believe that sustainable community and popular activism and action must be funded by the citizens
  • Funds will be crowd sourced online and solicited from private and corporate donors
  • Income, expenditure  and bank statements will be publicly reported  at regular intervals to be determined

Grants

  • In addition we will apply and accept grants from international institutions and bodies that share our principles and values
  • We will not take funds or grants from bilateral, multilaterals, or governments or their agents.

Publications

  • We will invest in and publish online and hard copy law reports, periodicals, books and journal to support the long term sustainability of the fund
  • We will invest in other social enterprise models that will support our goal and objectives

Grant Making

  • We will make direct grants to lawyers litigating cases that meet our criteria to cover legal fees, transport and accommodation out of station as applicable.
  • Cases will be chosen based on specific criteria that ensures they will have broad impact on a women and women’s rights nationally
  • Grantees will be chosen for their integrity, commitment, creativity,  and understanding of the legal issues involved
  • Grantees will report at regular intervals and will be given capacity building, mentoring and advisory support

Who?

Women’s Crisis Center was established in 2000 in Owerri Imo state in response to a study that showed the highest incidence of domestic and sexual violence occurred there.

The center ran a women’s shelter, an innovative community program to end violence, provided pro bono legal services and had a resource library.  The community program is in its tenth year while the resource center was moved to the federal capital for greater utility. The shelter was closed when it became evident that it did not fit the values of the community it served.

The WCC is managed by Lesley Agams, who will bring the experience she gained selecting and managing innovative social entrepreneurs and managing country programs for international organizations to the selection of the legal fund grant recipients and administration of the fund.  She will be a trustee and the Executive Director of the fund.

Ms. Iheoma Obibi, executive director of Alliances for Africa has accepted to be one of three trustee of the legal fund. Ms. Obibi, herself an Asoka fellow, will bring over 20 years experience as a leading women’s rights activist to the fund. You can read more about Ms. Obibi and her work at http://www.alliancesforafrica.org

When?

As soon as possible!

We have already initiated the registration process with the Corporate Affairs Commission in Abuja

Our next target is to raise an initial target of NGN1million in 3 months to complete the registration and launch officially with a press conference on October 4, 2012 and organize a major fund raising event on November 27, 2012

What We Would Like You to Do

Help us to reach our targets. Kindly donate to our fund. Help us protect and expand women’s rights and protections before the law.

Till we can pay for a website with Interswitch capability we request that you send your kind donations to the Women’s Crisis Center. No amount is too small!

God bless you as you support women’s rights development.

Account Details:

Name of Bank: Guaranty Trust Bank Plc

Name of Account: Women’s Crisis Centre Owerri

Account Number: 0023731452

Go to indiegogo here

We’re Crowd Funding to Set Up the Women’s Legal Defence Trust Fund. Please Support Us

What?

The Women’s Crisis Center Owerri is establishing a Women’s Legal Defense Trust Fund to aggregate funds from a variety of sources and to make grants with those funds to lawyers and organizations litigating cases that can have a broad impact on the protection, expansion and interpretation of women’s rights in Nigeria.

Why?

Because

  • Case law and apex court decisions have the potential to make sweeping changes in women’s rights protection and interpretation in Nigeria
  • Women and the lawyers that represent them frequently lack the funds required to access the justice system and to sustain litigation for a long time and through appeals
  • There are not enough public interest lawyers and NGO’s litigating women’s rights protection and interpretation
  • We want to systematically and strategically develop and report a body of case law to enhance and institutionalize legislative and policy changes that improve women’s rights.

How?

Fundraising

Crowd Funding & Donations

  • We believe that sustainable community and popular activism and action must be funded by the citizens
  • Funds will be crowd sourced online and solicited from private and corporate donors
  • Income, expenditure  and bank statements will be publicly reported  at regular intervals to be determined

Grants

  • In addition we will apply and accept grants from international institutions and bodies that share our principles and values
  • We will not take funds or grants from bilateral, multilaterals, or governments or their agents.

Publications

  • We will invest in and publish online and hard copy law reports, periodicals, books and journal to support the long term sustainability of the fund
  • We will invest in other social enterprise models that will support our goal and objectives

Grant Making

  • We will make direct grants to lawyers litigating cases that meet our criteria to cover legal fees, transport and accommodation out of station as applicable.
  • Cases will be chosen based on specific criteria that ensures they will have broad impact on a women and women’s rights nationally
  • Grantees will be chosen for their integrity, commitment, creativity,  and understanding of the legal issues involved
  • Grantees will report at regular intervals and will be given capacity building, mentoring and advisory support

Who?

Women’s Crisis Center was established in 2000 in Owerri Imo state in response to a study that showed the highest incidence of domestic and sexual violence occurred there.

The center ran a women’s shelter, an innovative community program to end violence, provided pro bono legal services and had a resource library.  The community program is in its tenth year while the resource center was moved to the federal capital for greater utility. The shelter was closed when it became evident that it did not fit the values of the community it served.

The WCC is managed by Lesley Agams, who will bring the experience she gained selecting and managing innovative social entrepreneurs and managing country programs for international organizations to the selection of the legal fund grant recipients and administration of the fund.  She will be a trustee and the Executive Director of the fund.

Ms. Iheoma Obibi, executive director of Alliances for Africa has accepted to be one of three trustee of the legal fund. Ms. Obibi, herself an Asoka fellow, will bring over 20 years experience as a leading women’s rights activist to the fund. You can read more about Ms. Obibi and her work at http://www.alliancesforafrica.org

When?

As soon as possible!

We have already initiated the registration process with the Corporate Affairs Commission in Abuja

Our next target is to raise an initial target of NGN1million in 3 months to complete the registration and launch officially with a press conference on October 4, 2012 and organize a major fund raising event on November 27, 2012

What We Would Like You to Do

Help us to reach our targets. Kindly donate to our fund. Help us protect and expand women’s rights and protections before the law.

Till we can pay for a website with Interswitch capability we request that you send your kind donations to the Women’s Crisis Center. No amount is too small!

God bless you as you support women’s rights development.

Account Details:

Name of Bank: Guaranty Trust Bank Plc

Name of Account: Women’s Crisis Centre Owerri

Account Number: 0023731452

Go to indiegogo here

Increasing Access to Justice for Victims of VAW: The Kudirat Initiative for Democracy KIND & Women’s Crisis Centre

Ms. Lesley Agams receiving a cheque for NGN150,000 from Ms. Amy Oyekunle of KIND

The Abuja Family Law Centre provides pro bono legal advice and education to women. So far it has been operating out of my law offices every Thursday from 10am to 4pm. We distributed flyers in around town inviting women to come see us but found this insufficient to reach the core audience of women that we want to reach, the women that can’t afford legal services and that frequently do not even know that they maybe entitled to justice and restitution.

The Kudirat Initiative for Democracy contributed NGN150,000.00 (about $1000) to the Women’s Crisis Centre a while ago to fund our work on violence against women.  With this money are now going to also take the legal clinic out to the women in their spaces and educate them about their rights to live without violence with their families and in their communities.  These outreach clinics will hold once a month in the first instance in addition to our weekly in house clinics.

Our initial efforts will be located within the Federal Capital City and Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC). We are proposing seminars and lectures with  women’s church groups, social groups, hospitals and market associations. During these 4 hour seminars we will give a 1 hour lecture on rape, the law of rape and what to do when a rape has happened and a 1 hour lecture on domestic violence and what woman can do if them or their children are victims.  There will be an hour for questions and answers and 1 hour for pro bono legal advisory.

Abuja Family Law Clinic is already working with the local chapter of FIDA and is building a network of lawyers with the capacity to litigate family law and women’s rights matters to whom cases  that emerge during our seminars can be referred for action to as appropriate.  We need volunteers; we need lawyers that can provide legal advisory and legal opinion and education, we need logistical support to arrange transport, welfare and materials as appropriate. We need volunteer writers, facilitators, experts and presenters to educate women on the following topics;

  1. rape
  2. domestic violence
  3. child rights act
  4. matrimonial law
  5. child custody
  6. child abduction

We will announce the schedule for the outreach clinics shortly. Meanwhile please continue to refer any women you know or suspect to be at risk of violence or in domestic violence situations to us at the law offices of Lesley Agams Esq. Suite 2000 4B Oyo St. Area 2, Garki, Abuja. Mobile number 0809 117 8629.

Nigeria’s Women Move Forward: Congratulations to Oby Nwankwo and Alooma Mariam Muhktar

Progress maybe slow but like someone said if you follow one course you will eventually achieve success.

The past week has seen the nomination  of Nigeria’s first female Chief Justice of Nigeria and the election of our own Oby Nwankwo in the UN CEDAW committee.

Justice Muhktar is not just the first female justice of the Supreme Court, she is a fearless advocate for truth and justice as evidenced by her dissenting judgement during the SC’s decision on Yardua and Buhari in 2008.

Justice Mukhtar alongside Justices George Oguntade (now retired) and Walter Onnoghen, ruled against the late Yar’Adua  and insisted that there was substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act, 2006 in the election that produced him in 2007. Today, her stand is widely acclaimed in legal circles and the academia.

She has been described as true patriot and a woman of the highest integrity.

I have had the pleasure to work with Oby Nwankwo since 2003. She is a foremost advocate for domestic violence victims in Nigeria, a field she committed to after a personal tragedy that took her sisters life.

Nwankwo holds a Masters degree in Criminal Law and served in the Anambra State Judiciary as a Magistrate for 23 years, voluntarily retired from the Judiciary in 2004 and has been in the forefront of the campaign for the respect for women’s rights, gender equality and good governance.

I would like to congratulate both our sisters for their tireless commitment to the cause of truth and justice in Nigeria and for the inevitable recognition of their hard work and sterling knowledge and expertise in their fields. I am especially proud that both of them are learned colleagues.

I recently launched the Women’s Legal Defence Trust Fund and I am confident that the elevation of our sisters to  these two positions is an incredible boost to our plans to develop a body of case law for women’s rights in Nigeria.

I am sure that I speak for all Nigerian women when I say that we are right here with you and behind you to carry on the good work.  I look forward to working with you both for our country and for the women of our country.

Justice Alooma Marian Muhktar
Ms. Oby Nwankwo