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New Documentary Takes on Gender-Based Violence in Nigeria by Government-Elected Officials

New Documentary Takes on Gender-Based Violence in Nigeria by Government-Elected Officials

Gender based violence is recognized as a universal problem almost reaching pandemic proportions. Notably, physical, sexual, and psychological abuse of women and girls are perhaps the most pervasive of all human rights violations throughout history, around the world.

And Nigeria, the west African nation, is certainly a part of the world.

A new feature documentary will explore a very specific kind of gender-based violence that’s reportedly commonplace in the country, providing a window into a world that many on this side of the Atlantic know little about.

From award-winning Nigerian filmmaker, Ishaya Bako comes a documentary that takes on what the filmmaker calls the methodical victimization and abuse of women in Abuja (the capital of Nigeria) by a task force that was initially set up by the Federal Capital Territory Administration, to apprehend and rehabilitate sex workers. The Federal Capital Territory is home to Abuja. The territory was formed in 1976 and is in the central region of the country. Unlike the States of Nigeria, which are headed by elected Governors, it is administered by the Federal Capital Territory Administration, headed by a minister appointed by the President.

Bako’s film, appropriately-titled “Silent Tears,” uncovers the truth behind the physical and sexual abuse by law enforcement officials against women residents of the Federal Capital Territory (and around the country), and also examines the society’s perception of this abuse that’s apparently encouraged, or perpetrated by security officials themselves nationwide.

“You were put here to protect us; but who protects us from you?”, as the Boogie Down Productions lyric goes.

The film will premiere in October fittingly in Abuja, the center of it all.

Other screening dates will be announced subsequently.

If Bako’s name is familiar, it might be because we featured his 2013 short documentary – “Fueling Poverty” – on this blog; a film that reported on the Nigerian government’s sudden announcement of a 117% increase in fuel costs, shocking the people (more than half living in poverty) for whom the rise was unwelcomed. The government’s reason for doing this was that it could no longer afford a subsidy that kept the price of fuel low, and they had to make some adjustment somewhere to save money for use in other developments. This, despite the fact that the government admitted that there was rampant corruption in the petroleum industry.

Nigerians were naturally upset that their rich leaders, instead of tackling head-on that corruption, as well as all their extravagant spending, chose to impose the burden on the citizens. And so Nigerians of all classes took to the streets, demanding fairness and justice – protests that eventually brought to the surface the countries long-standing political corruption and ethnic division wounds.

Bako’s 30-minute film captured the zeitgeist, creating visceral film that documented the uprising.

I’ve embedded “Fueling Poverty” below, giving you a sample of the filmmaker’s work. But first, you’ll find a trailer for “Silent Tears.” Both films were made with support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).

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