9 February 2018

Nigeria: Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in North-East Nigeria's Displaced Person Camps


Sexual exploitation and abuse in humanitarian crises is an area fraught with complexity. Don't get me wrong, men exploiting women is bad and must be addressed and punished. Yet take a moment to consider the other side; women make fully informed decisions to be "exploited", revealing that they have weighed up their options and have decided that entering the relationship is to their benefit. Who are we to say their decision is wrong? I write this piece because I don't know the answer.

The community elders were worried about the number of pregnant women in the camp. Women should not have been getting pregnant, since most of them were married - albeit to men who had been in military detention for well over two years. A few years back, the Nigerian military, embroiled in a fight with Islamist group Boko Haram, had arrested the community's military-age men, detaining them as possible collaborators. The women had received no word of their husbands' whereabouts - or if they were even still alive.

So, the pregnancies should not have been happening, the elders thought. Yet the growing ranks of pregnant stomachs revealed that something was going on. They decided action must be taken....


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