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Two arrested for Nigeria gang rape video

Video raises questions of sexual violence and police investigations of crimes.
Nigeria police 2011 9 27Enlarge
Nigerian police arrested two students in connection with a gang-rape after a video of the incident surfaced on the internet. Here are Nigerian police on patrol. (Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images)

Nigerian police have arrested two university students in connection to a gang-rape video posted on the internet that shocked online advocates into action.

The two students were questioned after detectives read online comments from internet users posting pictures and names of those allegedly involved, according to AP.

The two students at Albia State University have denied any wrongdoing.

The posted video shows the brutal rape of a woman by five assailants, and appears to take place in a university dormitory. In the video, the women can be heard pleading with her attackers to kill her, according to the Guardian. The perpetrators apparently recorded the rape and distributed it to others at the university.

Since it was posted, the video has attracted widespread attention from horrified viewers outraged at the response by investigators.

Initially the investigation had been declared over by the police department since the victim never came forward and reported the crime.

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But the following storm of social media comments and blogs — some bloggers even offered rewards for information — members of the Nigerian parliament called for the case to be reopened. 

Three days later, the clues posted on the internet helped Albia State detectives arrest two possible suspects, according to BBC.

Nigerian government and university officials, however, deny the incident took place in Albia State University or that anyone involved was a student of the school.

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Despite the arrests, activists are using the media attention surrounding this incident to draw attention to what they see as an “under-reported epidemic of rape” in Nigeria, AP reports.

Federal police statistics on a website called Nigeria Police Watch indicate 1,952 rapes were reported in 2009, a low number in relation to the more than 155 million people in Nigeria. A 2006 Amnesty International study on sexual violence in the country indicated reporting by crime victims was “inconsistent.”

But recent reports suggest Nigerian police don’t inspire confidence in victims looking for help.

Reports of rapes, killings and overall corruption of the police force have plagued Nigeria in recent years and have been documented by the Open Society Justice Initiative, according to the BBC.

The study describes cases of extrajudicial killings, of enforced disappearances and of prostitutes being arrested and raped.

"Nothing has been put into action. Our laws are still not clear,” said Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, executive director of the Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre, according to the Guardian.

“The woman who wants to report rape does not have the confidence in the justice system in Nigeria," said Akiyode-Afolabi. "The police are not accountable to the people. There is a lot of impunity on the issue of rape and sexual violence in Nigeria."

Activists say the lack of justice for the victims is compounded by the sense of shame many feel after the attack.

Josephine Effah-Chukwuma, executive director of women’s rights group Project Alert, said the “secondary victimization” by the surrounding culture of shame makes it hard for victims to come forward, reported The Guardian.

“The whole society blames [the victim],” she said.

Though the rape victim in the video did not come forward to authorities herself, she has been located and a women’s rights group is trying to get her counseling and medical treatment outside of Albia State, BBC reported.

The victim, who was visible and recognizable in the video, now must confront that culture Effah-Chukwuma described.

What does the future hold for her after thousands in her country have seen her face?

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/africa-emerges/nigerian-gang-rape-video-prompts-arrests