By Hassan Zaggi
The Federal Government has been called on upon to make available functional mechanisms to monitor, investigate, punish sexual violence and, indeed, other sexual reproductive health violations by state and non state actors in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps and their host communities.
The Senior Programme Manager, Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP), Pamela Okoroigwe, made the call when unveiling a report christened: ‘The conflict in Northeast Nigeria’s impact on the Sexual and Reproductive Rights (SRR) of women and girls, in Abuja.
The report, according to her, revealed that women and girls affected by conflict are particularly vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence including rape, sexually transmitted infections, sex trafficking, forced marriage and unintended pregnancies.
The report, therefore, called on the federal government to comply with its international and regional human rights obligations in regarding access to maternal health care services to ensure women and girls affected by conflict-related violence access comprehensive medical and support services, including psychosocial support.
While unveiling the report, the LEDAP Senior Programme Manager said: “The report also shows that access to maternal care services including skilled birth attendants and essential medicines remained a key barrier for the women who eventually made it to the IDP camps and host communities.
“Interviewees in all the interview locations spoke about their experiences of fleeing invasion by Boko Haram while pregnant.
“Many had been raped by the group and lost their pregnancies as a result. Those who did not, ultimately gave birth without any skilled attendance while camped out on roads, while seeking shelter underneath trees, in abandoned buildings, and in military detention centres. Many suffered severed maternal injuries and others died.
“Additionally, the report reveals that there is also a dearth of supporting mechanisms and processes to ensure accountability for sexual and reproductive health violations.
“Several women and girls including pregnant women, were raped, more often than not in the presence of their children, and many contracted HIV after these experiences and yet they were yet to obtain any justice for the recurring Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) violations in the camps.”
The group, therefore, insisted that: “Ensuring accountability and the provision of SRH information and services is central not only to an effective humanitarian response but also for fulfilling fundamental human rights obligations.”