…tasks govt on fulfillment of human, women reproductive rights
By Levinus Nwabughiogu
Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) has said that women and girls in the Boko Haram infested Northeast are randomly raped in exchange for food and water.
The Project said that the incidences occurred mostly in the host communities and the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs camps located in Borno, Adamawa, Yobe States and Abuja, the federal capital territory.
LEDAP’s Senior Program Manager, Barrister Pamela Okoroigwe while speaking on a report of a research work recently conducted by the Project titled “The Conflict in Northeast Nigeria’s Impact on the Sexual and Reproductive Rights of Women and Girls”, at a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday said issues of forced marriage and unintended pregnancy were also prevalent in the areas.
She bemoaned lack of access to maternal care services, dearth of skilled birth attendants and functional facilities, asking the government to implement its human rights obligations and also promote women and girls sexual and reproductive health and rights in conflict settings.
She said: “The Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) in partnership with Centre for Reproductive Rights (Center) today launched a report “The conﬂict In Northeast Nigeria’s Impact On The Sexual Ami Reproductive Rights of Women And Girls” which reveals that women and girls affected by conﬂict are particularly vulnerable to sexual and gender based violence including rape, sexually transmitted infections, sex trafficking, forced marriage and unintended pregnancy.
“The report analyzes information collected from over 325 respondents in Borno, Adamawa, Yobe, and Abuja indicates high incidences of recurring sexual and gender based violence, forced and child marriage and sexual exploitation in exchange for food and water which occurs with impunity in IDPS & host communities. One woman sum up her experience with this haunting words. She said, ‘I have been raped so many times that I can’t even remember’.
“The report also shows that access to maternal care services including skilled
birth attendants and essential medicines remained a key barrier for the women
who eventually made it to IDP camps and host communities. Interviewees in all the interview locations spoke about their experiences of ﬂeeing invasion by Boko Haram while pregnant. Many had been raped by the group and lost their pregnancies as a result. Those who did not, ultimately gave birth without any skilled attendance while camped out on roads, while seeking shelter underneath trees, in abandoned buildings, and in military detention centers. Many suffered severe maternal injuries, and others died.
“Additionally, the report reveals that there is also a dearth of supporting mechanisms and processes to ensure accountability for sexual and reproductive health violations.
“Several women and girls, including pregnant women, were raped, more often than not in the presence of their children, and many contracted HIV after these experiences and yet they were yet to obtain any justice for the recurring SRHR violations in the camps. Ensuring accountability and the provision of SRH information and services is central not only to an effective humanitarian response but also for fulfilling fundamental human rights obligations.
“The report calls on the Nigerian Government to comply with its international and regional human rights obligations in regarding access to maternal health care services to ensure women and girls affected by conﬂict-related violence access comprehensive medical and support services, including psychosocial support.
“Also, the government should ensure that there are functioning mechanisms to monitor, investigate, and punish sexual violence and other SRH violations by state and non -state actors, even in the IDP camps and host communities.”