Over a hundred women have been arrested and detained by the Abuja police in the past couple of weeks. The arrests were made after raiding a couple of clubs in Abuja.
The women’s crimes? ‘Prostitution and/or clubbing’. But here’s the funny thing about that, nowhere in Nigeria’s Criminal or Penal Code is clubbing a crime. And although prostitution is a crime under the Penal Code, so is solicitation. However, only women were arrested.
Public outcry only began over the last couple of days. But this weekend isn’t the first time this type of raid is happening. Before 70 women were arrested last Saturday night, 30 women were arrested in another raid two weeks ago. And these are only the raids we know of. We don’t know how long these raids have gone on for, and how long they’ll continue.
According to the police, noise pollution and the fact the property one of the clubs is located on, isn’t being used according to plan was the reason for the first raid. None of the club’s owners or managers were arrested in the raid. Do you know who was? Customers. And only female customers.
The police are now claiming the women arrested were prostitutes. But no evidence has been provided by the police to back up their claims. Also, the women are being denied access to legal aid, which is their constitutional right. This denial is a breach of their rights.
The worst part of this already heartbreaking story are the several reports that have surfaced of rape and sexual assault of the women in custody by the police.
If you were wondering what police leaders planned to do about this debacle, here is what Yomi Shogunle, the Assistant Commissioner of Police had to say about the arrests.
Again prostitution is only criminalised in the Northern states of Nigeria and Abuja, not the whole country.
The women are still in custody and no one is being allowed access to them.
The biggest takeaway from this? It’s clearly a crime to be a woman in Nigeria.