The Federal Government of Nigeria has disclosed plans to support victims of rape and other sexual harassment in the Northeastern part of the country.
The Borno State government and the Centre for Democracy Development (CDD), in partnership with McArthur Foundation, have also revealed their willingness to support young girls and women that suffered sexual harassment from Boko Haram members and bandits.
The development came up on Thursday at a programme organised by CDD tagged: “Addressing Sexual and Gender-based Violence in Conflict through Transitional Justice- and Screening of a movie, “Prosecutor.”
As some of the victims shared their experiences in the hands of the Boko Haram terrorists, the vice president, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, who was the guest speaker at the event, said government is formulating policies that will assuage the suffering of the people including poverty eradication.
Represented by one of the presidential aides, Mrs Maryam Uwais, the vice president said many; especially children, have been displaced without means of livelihood.
“Many, especially children, have been displaced without means of living. We are embarking on poverty alleviation and ensuring that those issues of sexual harassment are mitigated,” Osibanjo said.
A lecturer with the University of Maiduguri, Prof Hauwa Biu, said Boko Haram committed a lot of sexual violence. Hauwa, who gave the background of how the insurgency started, added that after the 2009 attack, a year after, it became a political initiation.
“Those rescued have now begun from Nursery school level,” Hauwa said, adding that the Boko Haram sect has a cult-like behaviour.
On sexual harassment, Hauwa, who gave a vivid description on how the insurgents harass women, added that they would be on a woman from evening to the next morning.
“No matter how old you are, they harass you sexually,” Hauwa added.
Hauwa, who said they have gathered about 360 sexually harassed women in Maiduguri alone, said most of them are registered from different IDP Camps.
“There should be a commission handling sexual violence because even the boys are abused. Both males and females and prone to sexual violence,” Hauwa added.
Also, CDD Director, Idayat Hassan, who said there is help coming to the Northeast, added that the issue of sexual harassment and violence still persists.
“How do we ensure that things are done the right way? It is a way to start engaging the system. We must address the issue of stigmatisation. CDD is doing that with the support from McArthur Foundation,” she said.
A Congolese doctor, Dennis Mukengere Mukwege, who was the guest speaker at the programme, called for joint and decisive actions against sexual violence, especially being perpetrated against women and girls.
“We can do something about the wrong in our society. We need to fight together against sexual and gender-based violence in Africa. Silence is a very potent tool used by perpetrators of sexual violence. We need to support survivors of sexual and gender-based violence instead of stigmatizing them,” Mukwege said.
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