A First for Women under the Maputo Protocol

By Osai Ojigho

When the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol) was adopted 1 July 2003 by the African Union (AU), little did we realize that it will take 15 years for a regional court to pronounce on it. This was more surprising considering that the Maputo Protocol was the fastest ratified AU treaty to come into force within 3 years of its adoption on 25 November 2005.

Summary of Facts

The Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB), a government agency responsible for waste collection and sanitation on the streets of Abuja, Nigeria around 2009 began carrying out raids in company of police officers and/or military officers often at night, conducted under the guise of ridding Abuja city of prostitutes. Many women were picked up each night and labelled as prostitutes just for walking at night and for no other reason. The women found outside of their homes at night picked up by this government agencies were physically assaulted, threatened with violence including been shot if they resist, verbally abused, and literally abducted into stationed vehicles used for that purpose. At detention centres, many of the women suffered or were threatened with beating, hara