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Nigeria: Judge awards damages in sex work case

20.12.2019

A federal high court judge in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, has awarded 16 women £210 each after ruling that their 2017 arrest was an infringement of their right to privacy.

The judgment was not based on the legality of sex work but an infringement of a right to privacy.

The women’s lawyer, Bamidele Jacobs argued in court, that sex work was not specifically a crime in Nigeria and the women were arrested and detained for accused of being a sex worker. 

He further argued that “the act of pulling down the doors of the applicants [and] indecently searching them” was a violation of their “dignity and as well right to private life”, a summary of the judgement says.

Justice Binta Nyako judged the women’s rights under the constitution of Nigeria had been violated. 

In their defence, the authorities argued that the women had been detained after violating a section of Abuja environmental law, the judgement says.

But Justice Nyako said constitutional rights overrode the local regulations.

As the judge did not, however, specifically state that sex work was not a crime, the women`s lawyer, Barr Jacob said he is thinking of appealing against the ruling in order to get the court to make a specific and clear pronouncement that sex work was not against the law.

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