Thewill Editorial: Sexual Exploitation Of Female Idps Wicked, Criminal


SAN FRANCISCO, November 11, (THEWILL) – The report by the Human Rights Watch, HRW, that officials and security agents sexually abuse women and girls at the Internally displaced Persons, IDPs, camps in the Northeast has come to many as disgusting.

The report stated that the Federal Government was not doing enough to protect female IDPs in various displaced persons camps, alleging that soldiers, police, camp leaders and vigilance groups deployed to protect the IDPs, were involved in the despicable act.

Earlier, rape and sexual abuses had been identified as going on in the 13 camps scattered around Maiduguri, as published by the Borno State Protection Sector Working Group, made up of national and international aid providers.

Given the trauma that these victims had passed through in the hands of Boko Haram, which necessitated their being homeless in a country that is not at war, it is a double tragedy that government had again failed to protect them in its custody from sexual predators.

According to some of the victims, they were often drugged before the rape or induced through material and financial assistance or promise of freedom through false marriage.

A senior Nigeria researcher at the HRW, Mausi Segun, said, “Many of those coerced into sex explained that they were abandoned after they became pregnant. It is pitiable that they and the children begotten from these abuses are abandoned to suffer discrimination and stigmatisation from other camp residents.”

THEWILL condemns the inhuman treatment that these women and girls have been subjected. It is even more nauseating that the crime is happening right inside the camps that government had guaranteed to be secure.

Despite the provision of Principle 14.2 of the United Nations, UN, Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, which states that the IDPs have “the right to move freely in and out of camps and other settlements,” they have been denied the privileges.

It is unacceptable that these IDPs are subjected to dehumanizing living conditions, which include denial of their basic rights, including their freedom of movement in and out of the camps, unless they are willing to satisfy the libido of those in charge of the camps.

THEWILL urges the Federal Government to intervene in stopping the ineptitude of the security agents and camp officials. It should also publish and execute the recommendations of the panels it had earlier set up to investigate the alleged mismanagement and diversion of funds and foodstuffs to the camps.

This is critical as the IDPs are said to live in harsh environment where they have no access to potable water and foods. Unfortunately, many lives have been lost, despite the billions of naira the Federal Government claimed to have channeled into catering for them.

We consider it morally wrong and professionally unethical for government officials and security agents to endanger the lives of persons entrusted in their care or subject the victims of Boko Haram to another misery.

It is commendable that the Borno State Police Command recently deployed 100 female police to the camps, as part of measures to protect the vulnerable persons. We urge the government to mandate these female security agents to interview the victims and act on the revelations.

As a booster, female soldiers should be deployed to complement the police, while their male counterparts should be limited to securing the precincts of the camps.

In the main, we recommend that the IDPs be given some vocational training in the camps, so that they could be useful to the society when they are finally liberated.

THEWILL fears that as long as the slave-master relationship exists between the officials and these persons, they would continue to be vulnerable to sexual abuses.

It is heartwarming that the President has a ordered full-scale investigation into the HRW report. We urge the Inspector General of Police, Idris Ibrahim and governors of the affected states not to allow the probe to go the way of similar exercises.

As the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara once noted: “To be displaced from your home is not only dangerous, but also one of the most degrading and humiliating experiences that can befall a human being.” But to add sexual abuses to it is the height of wickedness.

In line with the President's statement through his spokesman, Garba Shehu, that “the welfare of these most vulnerable Nigerian citizens is a priority of his government,” he must ensure that those guilty of these acts of exploitation are severely punished, while trying to greatly improve the living conditions of the IDPs.