Women and girls detained by Boko Haram have then been raped by their military ‘rescuers’ reports Amnesty International in a report that has taken two years and 250 interviews.
Nigerian troops sometimes separated women from their husbands and raped them, sometimes in exchange for food, in refugee camps, the rights group says in a report published today (24 May), as the BBC reports.
The report, ‘They betrayed us’, recorded the testimony of a 25 year-old woman who said a soldier raped her while she was pregnant.
“He knew I was five or six months pregnant. He said he saw me three times before. He didn’t offer me any food, he called me and I ignored him but on the third day, he forced me to a room and raped me,” she told Amnesty.
“It is absolutely shocking that people who had already suffered so much under Boko Haram have been condemned to further horrendous abuse by the Nigerian military,” said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.
“Instead of receiving protection from the authorities, women and girls have been forced to succumb to rape in order to avoid starvation or hunger.”
Nigeria’s military has dismissed the allegations as malicious and false, though accusations of abuses suffered by IDPs who fled Boko Haram at the hands of government officials are not new.
In August 2017, Global Christian News pointed out that Christians IDPs are subjected to discrimination and harsh treatment, including sexual exploitation, because of their religious background.
“Whenever supplies come, the sharing is chaotic. The officials would make us queue and usually fights break out as people struggle to jump queues, and if you are a Christian you are harassed and insulted. ‘Get out infidel!’ is usually what you hear all the time,” said Margaret, who was forced to leave a government-controlled camp in Maiduguri.
Christian women are particularly vulnerable, she noted, saying: “Muslim men come in their cars every evening and women are ‘arranged’ for them by some camp officials and middlemen who have access to the camps.”
She said prostitution is rife in the camps. “Our young vulnerable Christian teenage girls are being destroyed by men,” she said.
“They deceive the girls, get them pregnant and divorce them. Many times the Muslims come to meet us [women] and say they want to marry us and take us away from the suffering. They say we should simply convert to Islam and all will be okay.”
GCN’s report echoed previous allegations of discriminations faced by Christians IDPs reported to World Watch Monitor.
Amnesty’s findings also build on an earlier report which examined gender based violence due to the situation created by the Boko Haram conflict.