A Report from Women Protection and Empowerment International Rescue Committee
Since 2009 and with more recent escalation since 2012, violence resulting from the Boko Haram insurgency has crippled north-eastern Nigeria. Over 20,000 civilians have lost their lives and thousands of women and girls have been abducted and forced into sexual slavery Borno State (Borno) has been particularly affected, with all 27 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Boko Haram control at one point. Of the 7 million in need across Northeastern Nigeria, 3 million remained trapped in inaccessible areas.
However, in recent months, advances by the Nigerian Army and the Multinational Joint Task Force have led to improved access to some LGAs in Borno, revealing significant humanitarian needs.
Sexual & Gender Based Violence (SGBV) encompasses violence that is directed against a person or a group of persons on the basis of their gender or sex. It includes acts that inflict physical, mental or sexual harm or suffering, threats of such acts, coercion and other deprivations of liberty whether occurring in public or private life.
With the intensification of conflict driven by Boko Haram, the prevalence of GBV has escalated dramatically in northeast Nigeria. According to the Nigeria Humanitarian Response Plan, about 30% of women in the northeast reported experiencing GBV since 2013. Women and girls are targeted for abduction by Boko Haram and are often raped, forced into labor, marriage or religious conversion, abused, exposed to sexually transmitted infections and are often pregnant upon escaping captivity. Once in secure areas, women and girls remain vulnerable, due to a lack of access to food and essential NFIs and the loss of traditional protective social infrastructure. During focus group discussions (FDGs) held with displaced women and girls in Maiduguri city at the end of Feb 2017, some adolescent girls reported engaging in survival sex to meet their basic needs. There is also a high military presence throughout both Adamawa and Borno States, which often leads to further risks of exploitation, rape, coercion, and abuse of IDP women and girls.
GBV survivors in Borno States face a lack of health and psychosocial support services in these areas, as well as few supportive reporting channels, leading survivors to avoid reporting these incidents, fearing retribution, shame, blame, and humiliation. Clinical staff in the northeast are not routinely trained in appropriate responses to GBV, and legal responses and judiciary systems do not acknowledge the risks faced by survivors making a complaint and acting as witnesses. Given the high prevalence of GBV in these areas, there are critical needs for specialized, comprehensive and multi-sectorial GBV prevention