Boko Haram Refugees Raped by Nigerian Troops and Police, says Human Rights Watch (HRW)

Many women reported being coerced into sex with false promises of material assistance or marriage.

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A woman and a girl are seen outside makeshift accommodations at camp for internally displaced people in Maiduguri, Nigeria, March 8, 2016. VOA

November 1, 2016 :Human rights monitors are accusing Nigerian officials, soldiers and police of rape and other acts of sexual exploitation against women and girls who have escaped Boko Haram captivity for what they falsely believed to be the safety of government encampments.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) leveled the accusations in a report released Monday under the headline “Nigeria: Officials Abusing Displaced Women, Girls.”

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The 12-page document cites the cases of 43 females who were housed at seven government camps in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state and the 2009 birthplace of the Boko Haram extremist movement. The conflict has led to more than 10,000 civilian deaths and the abductions of more than 2,000 people — mostly women and girls in the country’s restive northeast.

FILE - A woman stands outside a makeshift house at an internally displaced persons camp in Maiduguri, Nigeria, March 24, 2016.
A woman stands outside a makeshift house at an internally displaced person’s camp in Maiduguri, Nigeria, March 24, 2016. VOA

Four women interviewed by HRW 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 also said many of the victims were abandoned if they became pregnant by their would-be caretakers, and said mothers and offspring alike later faced abuse and discrimination from other camp residents.

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President Muhammadu Buhari ordered police Monday to immediately commence investigations into the issue. He said the allegations are “not being taken lightly.”

The report says aid workers began warning early this year that displaced women in some camps have been forced to exchange sex with authorities for basic necessities.

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.

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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 said it was still awaiting Alhassan’s response as it drafted Monday’s report. (VOA)

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