HRW Accuses Security Officials of Rape, Exploitation of Female IDP

…Buhari orders IGP, Govs to probe allegation

 

By Onitsha Shedrack, ——- November 1st, 2016 ——

Human rights monitoring group, the Human Rights Watch, (NRW) is accusing Nigerian officials, soldiers and police of rape and other acts of sexual exploitation against women and girls living in internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps as a result of Boko Haram’s insurgency.

A security personnel gestures at the Bakkasi camp for Internally Displaced People (IDP), after security was called in to control a protest rally held to demonstrate against what the IDPs said was a poor distribution of food rations, in Maiduguri, Borno state, Nigeria, August 29, 2016. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde?
A security personnel gestures at the Bakkasi camp for Internally Displaced People (IDP), after security was called in to control a protest rally held to demonstrate against what the IDPs said was a poor distribution of food rations, in Maiduguri, Borno state, Nigeria, August 29, 2016. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde?

In a report published by the group on Monday titled; “Nigeria: Officials Abusing Displaced Women, Girls,” the group is also accusing the government of not doing enough to protect affected women or punish the officials involved.

The group in its 12-pages report stated that it documented 43 cases of rape and exploitation of women and girls in several IDP camps in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital in late July 2016.

According to the group four women interviewed by HRW officials said they were drugged and raped by camp leaders or military advisers, while 37 others reported being coerced into sex with false promises of material assistance or marriage.

The report added also that many of the sexually abused women and girls were abandoned by the officials if they became pregnant by supposed caretakers, stressing that some mothers and children alike later faced abuse and discrimination from other camp residents.

The group also listed movement restrictions, food shortages as some other forms of abuses the IDPs have had to face.

The reported noted that some aid workers raised alarm early this year that displaced women in some camps have been forced to exchange sex with authorities for basic necessities, such as food and drugs.

“The government is not doing enough to protect displaced women and girls and ensure that they have access to basic rights and services or to sanction the abusers, who include camp leaders, vigilante groups, policemen, and soldiers.

The rights group says that it wrote to several Nigerian authorities in August, requesting comment on the research findings.

“It is bad enough that these women and girls are not getting much-needed support for the horrific trauma they suffered at the hands of Boko Haram,” said Mausi Segun, senior Nigeria researcher at Human Rights Watch. “It is disgraceful and outrageous that people who should protect these women and girls are attacking and abusing them.”

 

According to the report, in August, United Nations special envoy Chaloka Beyani visited the country and later said the government had “a tendency to downplay the problem of sexual violence and abuse” of internally displaced people.

HRW also said Nigeria’s Minister for Women’s Affairs and Social Development, Senator Aisha Jumai Alhassan, agreed to meet with HRW officials on September 5 to review the rape allegations and then respond to them.

HRW, however, says that the group is yet to get a response from the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Senator Aisha Jumai Alhassan, as at the time the report was published.

However, in a swift reaction, President Muhammadu Buhari who is worried and shocked by the HRW report which alleges sexual abuse and exploitation of women and girls in camps for those displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency ordered an immediate investigation into the allegation.

Disclosing this in a statement on Monday, the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Mr. Garba Shehu, said that the welfare of these most vulnerable of Nigerian citizens has been a priority of President Buhari’s government and Nigerians and the international community can rest assured that the allegations raised in the HRW are not being taken lightly.

“President Buhari has instructed the Inspector General of Police and the state governors of the affected states to immediately commence investigations into the issue.

“Their findings will determine the next course of action for the government and define an appropriate response.

“While the Nigerian military continues to work hard so that these unfortunate victims of Boko Haram terrorism can soon return safely to their homes, the government will do its best to ensure their protection and welfare in the temporary IDP camps,” the statement added.

 

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