SHOCKING STORIES OF RAPE, FAKE MARRIAGE PROMISES AND SEX FOR FOOD AS POLICEMEN, SOLDIERS AND CIVILIAN JTF TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IDP YOUNG GIRLS AND WOMEN

One day, he (policeman) demanded to have sex with me. I refused but he forced me… But soon I realised I was pregnant. When I informed him about my condition, he threatened to shoot and kill me if I told anyone else. So I was too afraid to report him – 17-year-old girl rape victim

Women and girls displaced by the activities of Boko Haram in the North-East have accused government officials, including soldiers and policemen, of sexual exploitation and denial of basic human rights in the various Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps.

Many of the female IDPs are reportedly being raped by security operatives and camp officials who were ordinarily posted to these camps to protect these citizens who fled their homes to avert being killed, maimed or abducted by the terrorists.

Human Rights Watch (HRW), in a report released yesterday, disclosed that at least 43 women and girls living in seven IDP camps in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, had passed through the ordeal of sexual exploitation.

The victims had been displaced from several Borno towns and villages, including Abadam, Bama,Baga, Damasak, Dikwa, Gamboru Ngala, Gwoza, Kukawa, and Walassa. HRW stated that most of the women and girls were drugged and raped, while others were lured into sex through false promises of marriage, financial assistance and other benefits.

According to the report, many of those coerced into sex said they were abandoned if they became pregnant and their children have suffered discrimination, abuse, and stigmatization from other camp residents.buratai

One of the victims, a 17-year-old girl, said that just over a year after she fled the frequent Boko Haram attacks in Dikwa, a town 56 miles west of Maiduguri, a policeman approached her for “friendship” in the camp, and then he raped her.

“One day, he demanded to have sex with me,” she said. “I refused but he forced me. It happened just that one time, but soon I realised I was pregnant. When I informed him about my condition, he threatened to shoot and kill me if I told anyone else. So I was too afraid to report him.”

A 16-year-old girl who fled a brutal Boko Haram attack on Baga, near the shores of Lake Chad, northern Borno in January 2015, said she was drugged and raped in May 2015 by a vigilante group member in charge of distributing aid in the camp.

Her word: “He knew my parents were dead, because he is also from Baga. He would bring me food items like rice and spaghetti, so I believed he really wanted to marry me. But he was also asking me for sex. I always told him I was too small [young].

The day he raped me, he offered me a drink in a cup. As soon as I drank it, I slept off. It was in his camp room. “I knew something was wrong when I woke up. I was in pains, and blood was coming out of my private part. I felt weak and could not walk well.

I did not tell anyone because I was afraid. When my menstrual period did not come, I knew I was pregnant and just wanted to die to join my dead mother. “I was too ashamed to even go to the clinic for pregnancy care. I am so young!

The man ran away from the camp when he heard I delivered a baby six months ago. I just feel sorry for the baby because I have no food or love to give him. I think he might die.” Another victim, an 18-year-old girl from Kukawa, a Borno town 112 miles from Maiduguri, said that a member of Civilian Joint Task Force, initially gave her privileges, including passes that allowed her to leave the camp, but then raped her.

“The man started with preaching, telling me to be a good Muslim girl and not to join bad groups in the camp. He then sent his mother to propose to me, which convinced me that he was serious. When he asked me to visit his newly allocated room in the camp, I didn’t see any reason not to go because I felt safe with him. He gave me a bottle of Zobo (locally brewed non-alcoholic drink) and I immediately felt dizzy and slept off.

I don’t know what happened thereafter, but when I woke up he was gone and I was in pains and felt wet between my legs. For three days, I could not walk properly. “Some weeks later, I fell very ill, and was told at the hospital that I was pregnant.

Then everyone turned away from me: (He) refused to help me, and my stepmother who I lived with in camp pushed me out, saying I was a disgrace. I reported (him) to the police in camp several times, but they have not done anything to him because they work together.

Whenever I see him, I wish something terrible would happen to him. It is because of him that I have lost everything. I don’t even think the baby will last because she is always crying and I can’t cope. I pray that God will forgive me for neglecting the baby, but I am helpless.”

Similarly, a 30-year-old woman from Walassa, near Bama, about 43 miles west of Maiduguri, said that she fled into a nearby wooded area after Boko Haram fighters killed her husband and abducted her daughters, ages 12 and 9.

According to her, she stayed there for three months, hoping to find a way to rescue her daughters, until Nigerian soldiers arrived in the area and the fighters escaped with their captives. “A few weeks after soldiers transported us to the camp, near Maiduguri, one of the soldiers guarding us approached me for marriage. He used to bring food and clothes for me and my remaining four children. So, I allowed him to have sex with me. He is a Hausa man from Gwoza.

That is all I know about him. Two months later, he just stopped coming. Then I realised I was pregnant. I feel so angry with him for deceiving me. “When he was pretending to woo me he used to provide for me, but as soon as I agreed and we began having sex, his gifts began to reduce until he abandoned me.

Now my situation is worse as the pregnancy makes me sick, and I have no one to help me care for my children,” she told HRW. A woman from Bama living at the same camp said: “The soldier showed his interest by bringing me food and clothes. He used to wear the green army uniform and carried a gun.

I accepted him because I needed help to take care of me and my four children. “Feeding in the camp is only once a day so you have to accept any help that comes. We started having sex in my camp tent – my sister who was sharing it with me left – or at night in the open field where soldiers stay in the camp. Five months later when I realised I was pregnant and told him, he stopped coming. I have not seen him since then. I feel so ashamed because my neighbours talk and stare at me.

I cry whenever I think about him. “I delivered the baby two months ago but he is also suffering – I eat once a day, so (I am) not producing enough milk to breastfeed him well. Things are so bad in the camp, there is not enough water or food.”

An 18-year-old girl from Baga said when she met a member of the Civilian Joint Task Force in the camp, she felt she could trust him because he is also from Baga. “He took me from the camp to a house on Baga Road so we could meet freely. I stayed with him in that house for about one month.

Then I fell ill, and went to a clinic. The people at the clinic asked for the person I was living with, and invited him. That was when they told him I was pregnant, and he accepted the pregnancy. But immediately (when) we came out of the clinic, he took me to a man to abort the pregnancy. I refused and he said if I would not abort, we should separate.

Then I moved to the camp. I gave birth almost a year ago, but the man has refused to take responsibility. Some months ago, he followed the military to catch Boko Haram far from Maiduguri. Even when he visits his two wives in the camp, he never asks for my baby and me. I go outside the camp to beg so that we can survive.”

Also, a 25-year-old woman from Dikwa said that when she fled Boko Haram’s attack on the town, she lived with her brother in a rented apartment in Maiduguri. When he was no longer able to feed her and her three children, he took her to the camp where he handed her over to camp elders.

One of these elders, a local government employee – who are often financially better off than most displaced people because they receive salaries – proposed marriage and regularly brought her food and money.

But the marriage did not materialise, and he began to shun her when she became pregnant. He continued to ignore her when she delivered twins and asked him for money to pay for her midwife. The woman said: “If I have a gun, I will shoot him.

It is because of him that people call my babies names and me. I am so ashamed that I cannot participate in camp activities and keep to myself because of the jeers.” Another 17-year-old girl said that a young man she knew took her home to his grandmother when she arrived Maiduguri from Dikwa in mid-2014.

She narrated: “He told me he wanted to marry me, and his grandmother referred to me as her grandson’s wife. I lived with them, cooking and cleaning the house, until a month later when he disappeared for weeks. The grandmother asked me to leave, promising to come to the wedding… It was a lie.

I did not know it but I was already pregnant. Maybe she already saw the pregnancy signs and I was too young to understand. I heard the grandson fled the town because he heard I have given birth. Now I have been left alone to fend for the baby. I don’t know if any other member of my family survived the Boko Haram attack on Dikwa.”

The Boko Haram conflict has led to more than 10,000 civilian deaths since 2009; the abductions of at least 2,000 people, mostly women and children and large groups of students, including from Chibok and Damasak; the forced recruitment of hundreds of men; and the displacement of about 2.5 million people in North-East.

Related posts