Standing Up Against Sexual Violence in NIgeria - and Around the World

By Katie Feifer

Sexual violence is global issue, of course. Daily we hear of horror stories of women raped from around the world; it can seem as if the problem is too big, too entrenched, and just too damn difficult to make any headway against. But sometimes there are simple steps each one of us can take that can make a difference: that can raise awareness, put public attentionand pressure on a horror that needs to be dealt with to support women who are victims of rape, and that can help bring perpetrators to justice and begin to change a culture's attitudes toward sexual violence.

We urge you to sign the Change.org petition that is currently circulating to demand that the government in Nigeria investigate the brutal gang rape of a university student that was videotaped, and that they provide support for this rape victim.

This simple step can make a difference in the life of a rape victim, and the culture in a country.

From Change.org:

"There's a desperate search on for a female university student in Nigeria. Some want to silence her. Others want to protect her.

On August 16, the unidentified woman was gang-raped by five male students at Abia State University -- for hours, as she begged first for mercy, and then for her rapists to kill her because of the pain. And it's all on video.

Change.org member Adetomi Aladekomo has joined bloggers and activists working to bring the victim to safety and her rapists to justice by starting a petition to Abia State University (ABSU) and state officials. Sign Adetomi's petition to demand a full investigation into the videotaped rape in order to prosecute and convict the "ABSU 5" gang-rapists.

Over the past two weeks, bloggers and individuals around the world have put up reward money and used video imaging software to try to identify the victim and the rapists -- when the police should have been doing this all along. Unbelievably, state authorities have so far stymied efforts, preferring to deny the rape ever even happened under their watch. Local women's groups fear that they're even out to silence the victim, perpetuating a culture of fear and shame around rape in Nigeria, where such crimes are dramatically under-reported and under-prosecuted.

Adetomi, who grew up in Nigeria until she was seventeen, knows that international outcry around the gang rape at ABSU will be decisive in protecting the victim and bringing justice. With the whole world watching, the victim may have the courage to come forward and press charges -- and other women who’ve been raped may come forward, too, when they previously would not have.

In fact, it was because of Change.org members and international outcry earlier this year that a woman who had created a Change.org petition from inside a Cape Town safe house was able to come out and seek justice for her partner, who had been gang-raped and killed to 'cure' her of being a lesbian.

Global pressure is as important today as it was then. Demand the "ABSU 5" gang-rapists who videotaped their own crime pay for it with prison time. Sign Adetomi's petition now, and then send it to everyone you know."