NYTimes: Girls Fled Boko Haram, Only to Be Raped by Nigeria’s Security Forces

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By DIONNE SEARCEYDEC,

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria — The camp was supposed to be a refuge. Falmata’s life had been stolen by war ever since the sixth grade, when she was abducted from her home and raped repeatedly by Boko Haram’s fighters for the next three years.

She finally escaped last spring, slipping into the bush while her captors slept. Fourteen years old and alone, she made it to a camp for victims of the war, and had just settled in for the night when she heard footsteps outside her tent. A security officer’s voice instructed her to come out. Frightened, she obeyed.

He took her to his quarters, she said, and raped her.

Hours later, after she had returned to her tent, another officer arrived, she said. He raped her, too.

“The same day I was brought there, soldiers started coming to rape me,” Falmata said. “They did it one after another. I’m not even sure those two knew about each other.”

Rape has been a defining horror of the war with Boko Haram, which has consumed northeastern Nigeria for eight years and spread beyond its borders. At least 7,000 women and girls have endured Boko Haram’s sexual violence, the United Nations estimates. Militants kidnap and rape young girls, teenagers and women, handing them out as so-called brides who are sometimes passed from fighter to fighter.

The New York Times interviewed 18 girls who were captured by militants in Nigeria and sent into crowds to blow themselves up. Here are their stories.

But Nigerian security forces have also raped victims of the war, preying on the people they are assigned to protect. Dozens of cases of rape, sexual violence and sexual exploitation were reported in seven camps in Borno State last year alone, carried out by guards, camp officials, security officers and members of civilian vigilante groups, the United Nations says.

People lined up for food rations being distributed under military watch in Mainok village in Borno State, Nigeria. Dozens of cases of rape, sexual violence and sexual exploitation carried out by guards, camp officials, security officers and members of civilian vigilante groups were reported in Borno State last year.

More than a year ago, the Nigerian government pledged to investigate the allegations of rape in camps for people displaced by the war, saying that “these very distressing reports will not be taken lightly.” But accounts of sexual assaults in the camps are still common, including from young girls who say they were raped by soldiers on many occasions.

“The soldiers would come and hold me so tight,” one 13-year-old girl said in an interview. She said she had been raped about 10 times this year at a camp in Maiduguri, the city at the center of the fight against Boko Haram, before running away for her own safety.

“They were old enough to be my parents,” she said of the soldiers who raped her. Read full story in NYTimes

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