#ArewaMetoo campaigner and writer Maryam Awaisu has been released hours after she was arrested by the men of Nigerian police’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in her office in Kaduna on Tuesday.
Amnesty International confirmed her release.
“Maryam Awaisu has been released,” Amnesty International said on Twitter.
“Though she is free now, her arrest and detention were aimed at intimidating women rights activists pursuing justice for victims of sexual violence.”
Although the Nigerian police is yet to comment on the reason for Awaisu’s arrest, AI insisted that it was a part of a wider plot to intimidate “women rights activists pursuing justice for victims of sexual violence.”
Nigeria is notorious for its underwhelming prosecution of perpetrators of sexual violence against women, a situation which allows violation of women, including children that could barely talk, go on almost unchecked.
A 2015 report by UNICEF notes that that one in four girls and one in ten boys had experienced sexual violence before the age of 18.
Non-government organisations, some with focus on digital movement like #ArewaMeToo, in recent months have championed the cause of women who have been assaulted.
Actions such as the Tuesday arrest of Awaisu can deter victims of sexual violence from seeking justice, AI said.
“For too long, Nigeria’s women have been facing various kinds of sexual violence that seldom receives proper attention from the country’s law enforcement agencies,” Amnesty said.
“It is unacceptable that women working on behalf of these victims are subjected to such arrest and intimidation, and we fear that these actions may prevent victims of sexual violence from pursuing justice.”