There are two kinds of welfare services in Nigeria—those provided by voluntary agencies and those provided by the government. Voluntary agencies comprise those fully or partially subsidized by the government, those financed by a parent body such as a church or mosque, and those financed from subscriptions of their members. Workers are protected under the Labor Code Act (1958) and the Workmen's Compensation Act, which provides protection for workers in case of industrial accidents. A national provident fund scheme, inaugurated in 1961, was the first broad social security measure in Nigeria. The scheme is contributory and is designed to make systematic financial provisions for workers when unemployment occurs due to old age or illness. This program covers employees of firms with five or more workers, and a special system exists for public employees.
Although sex discrimination is banned under the 1999 constitution, traditional practices still deprive women of many rights and the adoption of Shari'ah law by many northern states has more severely limited the rights and freedom of women. Women may not obtain a passport without her husband's permission. It is customary for all assets to be turned over to the parents after the death of a male, leaving the widow economically destitute. Segregation by gender occurs in some schools, health facilities, and, in some states, on public transportation. Purdah, the Islamic practice of completely segregating a woman from men other than those within her family, is practiced in some families, primarily in the north. In Shari'ah courts, women's testimony is given less weight than that of men. Female genital mutilation (FGM) is widespread throughout the country despite government opposition. Domestic violence is widespread, and wife beating is permissible under the penal code.
Nigeria's human rights situation has improved under the Abubakar and Obasanjo governments, but service abuses remain. Arbitrary arrest and detention are still used to silence the government's critics. There are also reports of torture and extrajudicial killings. Prison conditions, furthermore, are considered to be life threatening. Overcrowding and poor sanitary conditions are compounded by limited food, water and medicine for inmates. Sentences of stoning and amputation are still used.