Rape culture

Girls seeking safety from Boko Haram raped by guards in government-run camps

Hadiza, 18, said she was raped as many as 20 times by soldiers in a refugee camp in Maiduguri, Nigeria, Aug. 29, 2017. (Adam Ferguson/The New York Times)

For women and girls hoping to escape rape and imprisonment by Boko Haram, the supposed safe havens established by the Nigerian government have proven almost equally dangerous. Fourteen-year-old Falmata told The New York Times that she endured three years of repeated rapes while in the hands of the militants, but that when she finally escaped and made it to camp for victims, a security officer for the camp raped her that same night. Hours later, she said, another officer arrived and raped her as well.

“They did it one after another,” she recalled. “I’m not even sure those two knew about each other.”

Nigerian security forces have reportedly been accused of dozens of rapes in seven camps in Borno State last year alone, according to the United Nations. And while the Nigerian government promised more than a year ago to investigate the claims, provide more training to security officers, and deploy more women officers to serve in the camps, girls inside the camps say sexual abuse is still rampant. A 13-year-old girl told The New York Times she had been raped 10 times in a camp before she ran away to ensure her own safety. An 18-year-old said that it was common knowledge that the young women asked to cook for security officers at a camp called Teachers Village would be raped when they were done with their work. When she was chosen to cook for the officers, she said, she knew her “time [had] come.”

And when security forces weren’t raping girls outright, aid works have alleged, they were coercing women to trade sex for food — or even for entry into the camps themselves.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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