Nigerian officials are raping women displaced by Boko Haram, report says

ABUJA, Nigeria,  Nigerian authorities are sexually exploiting women displaced by the ongoing conflict with Boko Haram, the activist group Human Rights Watch said Monday.

A displaced woman with her two sons in a camp in Maiduguri, Nigeria. Human Rights Watch said women in camps are routinely sexually victimized by officials. Photo courtesy of U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs/ Jaspreet Kindra.Rukkaya with her two surviving children in Dalori camp in Maiduguri. Her 17-year-old son was killed and a 15-year-old kidnapped by Boko Haram. Credit: OCHA/Jaspreet Kindra.

An HRW report said the Nigerian government is not doing enough to protect womeni n displacement camps, where they were sent after their villages were attacked by Boko Haram, the insurgent terrorist organization waging a war to establish an Islamist caliphate in northern Nigeria.

The report documented 43 cases of rape and other sexual abuse. Four victims said they were drugged and raped, and others said they were coerced into sex by false marriage promises and financial assistance. Many said they were told they would be abandoned if they became pregnant. The report said eight women at the displacement camp in Maiduguri told HRW they were abducted previously by Boko Haram and forced into marriage before they escaped.

As assessment by NOI Polls, a Nigerian research organization, said 66 percent of 400 displaced people in camps in three Nigerian states reported that camp officials sexually abused the camp’s female residents.

“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. It is disgraceful and outrageous that people who should protect these women and girls are attacking and abusing them.” commented Mausi Segun, senior Nigeria researcher at Human Rights Watch.

At least 10,000 people have died since 2009 in the conflict with Boko Haram, and more than 2,000 have been abducted, mostly women, children and groups of students. About 2.5 million people have been displaced. HRW said the vulnerability of victims in displacement camps, most of them widows and unaccompanied orphans, make them susceptible to sexual attack by camp officials, soldiers, police and members of civilian vigilante groups.

By Ed Adamczyk