A Nigerian woman who came out as lesbian has become the victim of her ex-husband’s alleged violent homophobic campaign against her.
NoStringsNG, an LGBT website, reports that the woman, known as Rita (pictured), was found by her former spouse in bed with another woman when he barged into her Lagos flat.
The infuriated man, named only as Afolabi, is alleged to have reported her to the police. Officers raided the home and arrested the woman.
Rita said she identifies as lesbian and only got married because she was pressured by her late father.
“But when he died, I felt that there was no need for me to continue with the marriage since I did not love the man I was married to,” she told the site.
Her then husband fought her attempts to end the marriage and after the divorce allegedly continued to harass and stalk her.
After he found her chatting with her girlfriend in bed he returned to the apartment with the police.
“At the station, I was abused by the police officers. Then they locked me in a room along with other girls. I slept on the cold tiled floor for four days. It was a weekend and they said that I could not get bail on weekends.”
Rita said that she was only released after she paid police a bribe. But her nightmare was not yet over.
On 17 September, Rita was attacked by a group of men she believes was sent by her ex-husband to kill her. While walking in the street when returning home in the evening, she was harassed by the four thugs.
“I was scared because it was a little bit late so I walked very fast to avoid any harm, but they moved very quickly and stopped me,” she said. “Immediately they started hitting me and saying all sorts of things about how I left my husband to be a lesbian, and that they will burn me. I heard as one of them requested for a tire. They started hitting me with very heavy woods. I fell to the ground and started bleeding.”
Rita was able to escape with the help of a shop owner who came to her assistance. She sustained various injuries and spent the night in hospital. Fearing for her life she has since flown to Canada, where she is now seeking asylum.
Nigeria has some of the most repressive anti-LGBT legislation in the world. A 2014 federal law prohibits same-sex marriages and relationships with a penalty of up to 14 years in prison and stipulates 10 years in jail for public displays of same-sex affection as well as 10 years for membership or support of LGBT groups.
Under older colonial-era legislation, anyone found guilty of engaging in homosexual acts can also be jailed for 14 years.