Female Boko Haram Victims In Nigerian Camps Forced To Sell Sex As Food Runs Out

Physinews: Tired of watching her five children go
hungry in a camp for people fleeing Boko
Haram in northeastern Nigeria, Amina Ali
Pulka decided to befriend a young man
who worked in the kitchen.
Desperate due to the lack of aid
distributed at the Bakassi camp in the city
of Maiduguri, the 30-year-old had sex
with the man in exchange for extra food to
give to her children.


“I did it because I had nobody to feed me
or clothe me,” Pulka told the Thomson
Reuters Foundation by phone, adding that
the man, who like her had been uprooted
by Boko Haram violence, also gave her
money which she used to buy soap and
other items.

Pulka is one of many women in internally
displaced persons (IDP) camps in
northeast Nigeria who are selling sex in
exchange for food, soap, and money, said
medical charity International Medical
Corps (IMC) and Nigerian research group
NOI Polls.

Aid agencies have warned of starvation,
malnutrition and dwindling food supplies
for the displaced in Borno State Nigeria.

“At times, the food is not enough so the
women resort to giving themselves for
food and money,” said Hassana Pindar of
the IMC, which runs support centres for
women in the camps.

Boko Haram violence has left more than
65,000 people living in famine in the
northeast, with one million others at risk,
and more than half of children under five
are malnourished in some areas of Borno
state, a coalition of aid groups said last
week.

The Islamist militant group has killed
about 15,000 people and displaced more
than 2 million in Nigeria in a seven-year
insurgency aimed at creating a state
adhering to Islamic laws.

A military offensive has driven Boko
Haram from much of the territory it held in
northern Nigeria, but the militants have
continued to carry out suicide bombings
and raids in northeast Nigeria and
neighbouring Cameroon, Niger and Chad.

SEX FOR FOOD AND FREEDOM
Almost 90 percent of people uprooted by
Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria do not
have enough to eat, according to a survey
last week by NOI Polls, which found that
many women are trading sex for food and
the freedom to move in and out of IDP
camps.

The pollsters said that sexual abuse was
a concern, and that the displaced accused
camp officials of perpetrating it in two
thirds of cases.

Hundreds of the displaced staged a
protest last month in Maiduguri, accusing
state officials of stealing food rations,
prompting Nigerian President
Muhammadu Buhari to order police to
arrest and make an example of the
culprits.

In addition to mothers desperate to
provide for their children, many teenage
girls in Bakassi camp are sleeping with
men in exchange for food, said IMC
volunteer Fatima Alhaji.

“Some go out to beg on the streets, others
go out of the camp to look for menial jobs,
while others use their bodies to get food
and money,” she said. “Everybody is
talking about it.”

Five months pregnant, Pulka has been
abandoned by the kitchen worker, while
she has not seen her husband, who lives
in the capital of Abuja with another of his
wives, for three years.

Pulka said her husband, who has not
visited the camp or sent any money,
refused to come and take the children
under his care.

Her oldest daughter, 15, is distraught
about her pregnancy.

“She asks me why I am pregnant when
their father has been away for three years
… other people in the camp also ask me
questions,” Pulka said. “I did it because of
my children.”