Female Boko Haram Victims In Nigerian Camps Forced To Sell Sex

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.

“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.