Revisiting Nigeria's NHRC Mobile Tech Solution To Combat Sexual Assault – Tekedia

Two years back, precisely on 24th September 2020, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in Nigeria graciously launched a digital platform called UNSUB in her quest to aptly tackle Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) in the country.
Sexual violence or SGBV is any sexual action or attempt to obtain a sexual pleasure via violence, act to traffic someone or directed against his/her sexuality, irrespective of the offender’s relationship with the victim.
SGBV could take place either in peace or armed conflict situations. It is widespread and considered to be one of the most traumatic and common human rights violations in the contemporary global community.
It has constituted a severe public health plight and a colossal short cum long-term impact on both physical and mental health, including an increased risk of Sexually-Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and reproductive issues. It has equally resulted in increased cases of suicide.
It’s noteworthy that murder occurring either during sexual assault or as a result of honour killing in response to the act is equally a factor of SGBV, though women and girls mostly fall victim of this aspect.
Research indicates that victims of SGBV are usually stigmatized in every setting. This is the reason the rate of disclosure of the assault varies between societies. Generally speaking, it’s a widely underreported phenomenon, hence available data tends to underestimate the real scale of its occurrence.
The fact that the incidence of SGBV is underreported across the globe, particularly Nigeria, could be what informed the recent action of the NHRC. Though the move could be described as late, “it is better late than never”.
According to the NHRC, in Nigeria, less than 25 percent of rape cases or SGBV is being reported, whilst less than 15 percent is pursued to a logical conclusion. This practice has reportedly created huge gap in the justice system for rape survivors.
The aforementioned gap is seemingly what the newly introduced digital platform is set to address. It is targeted to tackle all lapses surrounding SGBV and allied matters.
The platform was reportedly designed to offer a tech-driven service aims at ensuring that more cases of SGBV are regularly reported by the victims and/or stakeholders as well as poised to end the challenges of data gathering.
The NHRC made us acknowledge that it is a web and mobile application (App) required to facilitate synergy among responders of SGBV. Hence, innovation is a safe space that would usher in a safer society.
SGBV has continued to pose a serious threat to humanity and the world at large. Funnily enough, it hasn’t been seriously handled or fought by the concerned authorities over the decades.
Millions of individuals are on a daily basis dying in silence – while many have committed suicide – owing to SGBV, yet it’s ostensibly overlooked by those who are seen as messiah towards ending the ugly trend.
If well understood, every sane and discerning mindset could boldly attest to the fact that SGBV has in recent times caused far more harm to the wider society than any social vice in existence. This is why most schools of thought describe it as a societal monster that deserves no mercy.
In view of the above assertion, I and my likes have over the past years expected several relevant bodies – such as the NHRC – to do more actions than speeches. Going by the newest invention by the said agency, it seemed they eventually became prepared and willing to walk the talk.
Recently, technology has proven beyond doubts to be the apt and best way to tackle any form of crisis or challenge. Hence, those who are yet to fully key into its mechanism could be rightly described as dreamers. This is the reason the action of the NHRC ought to be noted as apt, though not timely.
More so, like I earlier stated at time the device was invented, taking into cognizance that lack of maintenance culture had overtime bedeviled most of Nigerian policies and measures, there’s need for the NHRC and its partners to look inwards with a view to ensuring such tech-driven approach didn’t fade away in the long run.
Two years down the line, nothing tangible has apparently been heard concerning the invention, hence the compelling need for a holistic review by the authority.
Against this backdrop, the commission must comprehend that enhancement is key in any innovative move. Hence, from time-to-time, courtesy demands that the newly introduced App should be reviewed by the experts involved for possible upgrade and what have you.
They need to equally be mindful of hackers, hence the security architecture of the platform must be rigid and rugged. This is an aspect that mustn’t be relegated to the background if the commission is truly interested in recording tremendous success as the journey progresses.
There’s also a compelling need for massive awareness and sensitization to make the general public acknowledge this innovation and its prime motive. This won’t be duly actualized if all the needed channels aren’t deployed in the process.
Most importantly, there’s a need for Nigeria as a country to revisit her policies and laws towards imbibing technologically-driven clauses in the document. Time has obviously come for the laws binding all forms of SGBV to be reviewed in earnest in order to inculcate technology or tech-driven measures therein.
This is where the lawmakers need to come in, especially at such a time like this the country’s various laws and Acts are being reviewed and amended. For adequate implementation of any innovations, such as this introduced by the NHRC, the extant laws or Acts must be meant to recognize them. Thus, governments at all levels have a vital role to play in this regard.
Away from the NHRC, other human rights groups or agencies such as the National Agencies for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), on their parts, ought to equally key into technology in their bid to totally get rid of every kind of human rights abuses and violations.
They must also engage formidable and reliable tech experts to manage the functionality of the platform to ensure sustainability and reliability, among others. It’s worth noting that only qualified personnel can be entrusted with the technicalities involved in the day-to-day operations of such a platform.
Human rights violation is a serious issue that shouldn’t be treated or handled with kid’s gloves. Hence, all concerned must be willing to deploy every available tool while combating the societal monster.
As the NHRC is apparently poised to properly combat SGBV by adopting technology to breach the existing gap or lapse, the concerned stakeholders must note that the onlookers are equally watching their footsteps.
Comrade Fred Nwaozor is a Nigerian tech expert, researcher, columnist, policy analyst, content writer, prolific creative author, media icon, motivational speaker & rights activist. He’s the Founder, DeepiTech Consult. Email: [email protected]





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