‘Shocked’ Buhari or­ders probe into ‘sex­ual abuses’

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

CAPE TOWN — Nige­rian Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari has or­dered an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into al­le­ga­tions that women and girls who are vic­tims of Boko Haram were sex­u­ally abused by govern­ment of­fi­cials tasked with help­ing them.

The al­leged abuses were made pub­lic in a re­port re­leased by hu­man rights watch­dog, Hu­man Rights Watch (HRW) yes­ter­day.

Ac­cord­ing to the BBC, Buhari’s of­fice con­demned the al­leged abuses, adding that his of­fice was “shocked” by the re­port.

The HRW said it had in July doc­u­mented 43 cases of women and girls in seven in­ter­nally dis­placed per­sons’ (IDP) camps in Maiduguri, the epi­cen­tre of the seven-year Is­lamist in­sur­gency, who had been abused by camp lead­ers, vig­i­lante groups, po­lice­men, and soldiers.

“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,” said Mausi Se­gun, se­nior Nige­ria re­searcher at HRW.

“It is dis­grace­ful a n d out­ra­geous that peo­ple w h o should pro­tect these women a n d girls are at­tack­ing and abus­ing them,” he added.

Four of the vic­tims told HRW they were drugged and raped, while 37 were co­erced into sex through false mar­riage prom­ises and ma­te­rial and fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance.

Buhari’s of­fice said it had since in­structed the po­lice chief and state gov­er­nors to im­me­di­ately launch an in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Boko Haram has dev­as­tated north­east Nige­ria in its quest to cre­ate an Is­lamist state, killing over 20 000 peo­ple and dis­plac­ing 2.6 mil­lion from their homes.

Since tak­ing up arms against the Nige­rian govern­ment in 2009, the ji­hadists have dis­rupted trade routes and farms.

The HRW said in state­ment: “Many of those co­erced into sex said they were aban­doned if they be­came preg­nant. They and their chil­dren have suf­fered dis­crim­i­na­tion, abuse, and stig­ma­ti­sa­tion from other camp res­i­dents,” the global rights body said.

HRW spoke to one 17-year-old girl who was raped and made preg­nant by a po­lice­man.

“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.”

HRW said ir­reg­u­lar sup­plies of food, cloth­ing, medicine, and other es­sen­tials in camps were mak­ing the women vul­ner­a­ble to abuse and ex­ploita­tion. “In some cases, men used their po­si­tions of author­ity and gifts of des­per­ately needed food or other items to have sex with women,” it said.

Boko Haram has dev­as­tated north­east Nige­ria in its quest to cre­ate an Is­lamist state, killing over 20 000 peo­ple and dis­plac­ing 2.6 mil­lion from their homes.

Since tak­ing up arms against the Nige­rian govern­ment in 2009, the ji­hadists have dis­rupted trade routes and farms.

Now nearly 50 000 chil­dren are fac­ing death by star­va­tion if they don’t get food and al­most 250 000 more are se­verely mal­nour­ished in Borno state, ac­cord­ing to Unicef. - AFP

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